The Hidden Message in Fantasy Fiction

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Shelley Wilson divides her writing time between motivational non-fiction for adults and the fantasy worlds of her YA fiction.

Her non-fiction books combine lifestyle, motivation, and self-help with a healthy dose of humour, and her YA novels combine myth, legend and fairy tales with a side order of demon-ic chaos. Her latest YA book, Guardians of the Lost Lands, is out today.

You can check out all of Shelley’s books here.

Shelley was born in Yorkshire but raised in Solihull, UK. She is an obsessive list maker, who loves pizza, vampires, and mythology, as well as being an avid reader/reviewer with slight crazy cat lady tendencies!

Writing non-fiction is relatively straight forward, a bit like teaching a class only you aren’t sat in front of them. You have a skill or a talent for a specific topic, and it feels right to pass on your knowledge so that others can benefit from your expertise/experience. When I wrote my non-fiction titles, I created them purely for a handful of people who I thought might find them helpful. At that time, I didn’t think that people across the world might also find inspiration in my written words.

My book, How I Changed My Life in a Year, became a bestseller in self-help, and women’s biographies, and it helped me realise just how important personal reflection can be.

Alongside my non-fiction work, I’ve always harboured a selfish goal to write a book series dedicated to the make-believe characters that run amok in my brain at any given moment.

Taking part in NaNoWriMo for the first time in 2013 gave me the outlet I needed to write that first draft of my YA fantasy novel, Guardians of the Dead. I wondered if I would be able to reach the finish line after being so absorbed in writing non-fiction with its research structure and personal aims.

I was delighted to discover that writing fantasy fiction came easily to me, once I tapped into the skills I used daily in my holistic health business, and the topics I cover in my non-fiction books. Meditation, for example, is a personal development tool that I’ve used for many years. It’s also the perfect medium to use on a teenage protagonist to unlock her hidden powers.

Excerpt from Guardians of the Dead (Book 1):

‘Breathe in through your nose, fill your lungs and then release softly through your mouth.’
She tried hard to do as he instructed, and before long she did start to feel a sense of peace fall over her
‘My hands are tingling,’ she said uncertainly
‘Good, you might feel the same sensation in your feet too.’
She realised he was right and was surprised to feel the strange vibration running from her feet and lower legs up to her chest.
‘I want you to follow my voice.’
She listened out for him and jumped when she felt his breath close to her ear.
‘Picture a bright white ball of light floating above you. Watch it drop and cover you completely, surrounding you in the shining light like you are suspended inside a bubble.’
She could see the light clearly and watched in awe as her mind did as Connor had instructed. The ball of light wrapped itself around her like a cloak and her entire body quivered as it settled over her.
She let out a soft gasp.

The main character, Amber, later discovers that she is not altogether human. She channels this new power through her in a variety of ways. One of these is through her hands, where she, and the witches in the book, can generate energy balls between their palms. As a Reiki Master, it was easy to imagine such a powerful skill. My Reiki tutor used to giggle when I told her that I pictured the energy of Reiki as balls of light shooting out of my hands – a bit like Willow in Buffy the Vampire Slayer!

Amber’s seven powers are linked to seven colours, all of which coincide with the seven main chakras (The Chakras are wheels of energy that align the spine, starting from the base through to the crown of the head. These wheels of energy are thought to be where matter and consciousness meet. It’s our vital life force, which keeps us vibrant and healthy). I worked with chakra energy every day in my work as a holistic health practitioner, and it was therefore incredibly easy to use this knowledge in my fiction work.

In the same way that I used my practical skills to flesh out my fiction, I was also able to use my emotional hang-ups to better use. To a reader, the antagonist, General Loso, is an evil menace who strips teenage boys of their humanity to create a superhuman army. He keeps a Faerie Queen as a prisoner and threatens her family. For me, the antagonist could be any bully who takes away a person’s power and controls them, forcing that person to their knees until, one day, they find the inner strength to fight back. Surviving an abusive marriage instilled in me that determination to survive, and the knowledge that we are never alone – there is always a brave knight, a loyal friend, or a higher power who can lend a hand.

So, the next time you read a fantasy novel read between the lines. What is the hidden message that lies beneath the surface? What can you learn from it?

Shelley’s latest YA Fantasy, Guardians of the Lost Lands is out today, and available from Amazon here.

It is the third book in the series. Book one is Guardians of the Dead.

Non-Fiction Titles:

Meditation for Beginners
Vision Boards for Beginners
How I Changed My Life in a Year
Motivate Me! Oracle Guide Book (Release date 2nd December 2016)

YA Fiction Titles:

Guardians of the Lost Lands (Book 1)
Guardians of the Sky (Book 2)
Guardians of the Lost Lands (Book 3) (Released today, 11 November, 2016)
Oath Breather (2017 release)

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