You get certain ideas about people when you only know them through letters, emails, or online. I was trying to think of a tagline that described my impression of Chicory, and “a gentle reader” popped into my head.
Remember Miss Manners? She would address people who write to her as “Gentle Reader”. By that, she was politely assuming they were gentlemen or gentlewomen. Even when they weren’t.
I envision Chicory as quite the gentlewoman. I first grew to knew her as a reader on Fantasy Debut. She didn’t make a big entrance, but she quietly appeared on the scene and started politely making her opinion known.She lives up to her first name of Grace.
She has agreed to answer a few questions about the fantasy genre. This introduces a new feature I hope to bring you regularly, which I’ll call Community Interviews.
Why do you read fantasy?
Why do I read fantasy?  I actually came at Fantasy a little sideways.  When I was really young our family was much more Mennonite than we are now, so my introduction to fantasy was through allegories.  My mother read us The Chronicles of Narnia and stopped to explain the representations as she went along, up until `Dawn Treader’ when she started asking `what do you think it means?’  (I found out later that she started having trouble picking out the allegorical elements before I ran out of questions.) It really taught me to think critically about what I read.  For the longest time, though (up until I was maybe twelve or so) I thought all fantasy was allegorical.  I got pretty frustrated, thinking I just wasn’t smart enough to get the underlying meaning of some of the stuff I was reading.  I finally figured out that sometimes a story is just a story.
   I just realized, none of that explains why I like to READ fantasy.  I love the pure escapism of it.  When I was a kid I was a bit awkward, so I really appreciated having story friends.  When I’m upset a familiar book can feel like a hug.  Fantasy, more than any other genre says that bad stuff happens but there’s good waiting beyond, if you just keep pressing forward.
What’s your favorite fantasy genre?
My favorite fantasy genre is kingdom fantasy.  I love secondary worlds, and the smaller focus of kingdom fantasy (as opposed to true Epic Fantasy) means I can get more attached to the characters.  I also adore fairytale retelling.
What’s your favorite fantasy ever? And why?
Favorite fantasy ever… you mean I’ve got to pick just one?  Okay.  I think I’ll go with The Black Cauldron by Lloyd Alexander.  I love that he doesn’t give his heroes any easy answers.  I love that the ending is bittersweet and honest.  I think it’s harder to give a satisfying ending than a happy one.
Who are your favorite fantasy characters? And why?
Favorite fantasy characters:  Prahotep and Baki from Gillian Bradshaw’s The Dragon and the Thief because I love how they play off each other.  Bilbo Baggins because he is so sweetly humble and grows so much through the story, and can forgive and mourn someone who wronged him.  Ward of Hurag from Patricia Brigg’s Dragon’s Bones and Dragon’s Blood because he’s kind and honorable and has an awesome voice.  Bigwig the rabbit from Watership Down because he’s loyal and awesome, and has the best line ever.  My chief rabbit told me to defend this run and until he says otherwise I shall stay here.  (Okay, so you need the context to really appreciate the line.)   Taran of the Prydain Chronicles because he tries so hard to be heroic only to fall flat, and doesn’t notice when he genuinely gets it right.  Goniff the Mousethief in Brian Jaques Mossflower, because he keeps his sense of humor even when things look bad.  That’s not actually a complete list, but I figured I’d better have mercy on your readers and stop there.

If you were to go on a quest, would you prefer to:

  • Travel to a far-off locale to kill or defeat a powerful enemy?
  • Quest for dangerous and powerful relics through fantastic lands?
  • Guide a Child of Prophesy to his fateful destiny?
If I was on a quest I would totally prefer to go after a dangerous relic.  No worrying about meeting a powerful enemy when you’re already at the end of your strength, no running in six directions after some `child of prophecy’ (babysitting. Yuck!) and there’s a chance of Cool Treasure!  Even if you lose the treasure at the last second, its powerful awesomeness will help you defeat your rival treasure hunters!  It’s a great deal all round.
Who are you, Frodo or Sam? And why?
I am definitely more Sam than Frodo.  I’d much rather be a follower than a leader.  (Leaders have too much responsibility.)  I like to think I’m loyal though that’s one of those things you’d have to ask my friends on.  I don’t think people can properly judge their own attributes.  And I’m waaay too stubborn to know when to quit.
Which fantasy system of magic would you love to be able to use?
What sort of magic system would I like to explore there was magic around?  Actually, I’m one of those people who starts skimming when people go into the technical aspect of magic.  I prefer the misty kind, where you wonder into an enchanted place by accident.  I do like magic objects, though.  I would love to have an invisibility cloak and a pair of seven-liege boots.