Check out my latest interview here on this blog: Lynnlawler
I will be on the author grill this coming weekend: May 2nd and 3rd!!! Location: The Lesbian Book Readers Club (on facebook). Get your questions ready and poke me (keep it clean please)! (:
I will also be holding giveaways and contests to test your knowledge of my books. Prizes include free pdf’s of Call Off The Search and The Queen’s Curse. And for the lucky winner a signed paperback of The Queen’s Curse, 4th edition (UK only)! Go here to join:
See you soon!
“This is not a fairytale, but a true story,” storyteller Tana Woodwolf tells the audience at the start of ‘Chained Freedom’.
This is some more information, symbolism and random thoughts about ‘Chained Freedom’, a thought-provoking fantasy. I’ve written the story some years ago whilst being stuck in a rather, suffocating relationship. I always had the choice to step out sooner than I did, but I didn’t feel ‘free’ enough, or ‘ready’ enough, or even ‘strong’ enough to do so but moreover full of guilt.
Instead, I wrote this story, as all my stories are based on my own life and experiences to some degree. I’m not Tana, mind you, but I feel like I know her really well!
But it’s not just relationships, of any kind, we can relate this story to, and apply it to our lives; it’s any kind of loss of freedom really. Freedom; everyone’s birthright, but so very fragile and easily swept away from us, whether we let it happen consciously, or more than often not. It could also be through religion, our upbringing, conditioning and social dogma’s that we get trapped without giving it a second thought.
When are we really free?
‘Chained Freedom’ is a short story featuring Fay Comyenti, first daughter of Sula and Felix from the first book in a Fantasy drama series, ‘Call Off The Search’ (Comyenti Series), and how she helps a woman break free from a magical entrapment.
Fay is not the main character, but an important side-character, who reminds the main character of Chained Freedom, Tana Woodwold, of her own inner strength.
Tana Woodwolf wakes to find herself trapped within a strange land. She learns quickly from the faces of the others that this is no paradise she has been transported to; it is a prison.
Unable to escape, Tana soon discovers that a dark and malignant force is dragging them, one-by-one, to unreachable higher rooms of the tower from which they never return.
If she is to ever escape from there then she will need to use all the guile and strength she has within her. Does one of the others hold the key? Or is it something else within the prison that she needs to study?
As the darkness comes nearer, a strange voice whispers, ‘Look and be free… You have to let go of what you know.’
Should she trust the voice? Should she trust the others? Does she even have a choice?
As despair and terror closes in around them all, only one person can discover the truth and save them…
Symbolism of Chained Freedom (spoiler alert!)
Tana, once free, is determined to also help free the other slaves. She won’t rest until she has found a way to do so. She cannot be completely free, until then she is still chained. Little does she know that the Wizard is the very embodiment of Evil and can never be defeated. It’s the balance of life, of light and dark, of right and wrong. It is more than that: as long as men continue to do evil, hurt other people, the Wizard will live. Only people with dark thoughts are being transported! That’s the first rule.
As for the other slaves, they are people like Tana, who cannot be broken free from the outside, but themselves will have to try to find a way from the inside.
Some people aren’t ready yet and live with a curtain (the magic wall), closed over their eyes. Others, like Tana, with a little help, can see an opening and find a way to lift the veil to let the light in again; a way to see the world in its true light and find goodness. Hope is the key that can open the heart which is the way. Compassion and love are the door(s).
Tower: Patriarchal dominance and world-leader ship. The prisoners end up there (close to the evil wizard) as a first warning and to actually been given a second choice. Not the real criminals are being put here, as they get a harder punishment, but people, like Tana, with minor crimes.
Prisoners: that’s what we all are unless we break through. Also a reference to ‘free range’ animals, or caged domesticated animals, who can’t escape at all. The prisoners know, like farmed animals, that they will end up dead and live in fear (both have been proven).
Wizard: Pure evil. But really it’s not about him, he is just a symbol. That’s why he has no face, no name, no voice and no real role in the story, because it’s about the slaves and their own inner wizard, their own evil inside of themselves. You can choose to do either good or bad. But you cannot be good to others if you’re not good to yourself first.
Disbelieve of their fate: What have they done wrong to deserve this? That’s a real life question of many people in ‘chained’ or difficult situations.
The Magic wall: the curtain or veil that is drawn over our eyes, making us forget our innocence and to be in touch with the real world around us.
Fay: the helper, someone who believes in Tana, for we all need someone to have faith in us; to do what seems the impossible.
Chains: invisible, but they’re still there. Also our responsibility to help others. We can never be truly free unless the whole world is. Until then we are still half-chained or with
The message that Tana is trying to give to other people is: Be good, do good, be kind to one another. If you don’t, you’ll end up in the tower. Because she had found kindness and a love in her own heart, hope and a lightness in her being, maybe by doing good, helping others, she found a way out and the wizard ‘let’ her escape, because she was changed and no longer evil.
I believe that with the right mind-set and help people indeed can change.
This story to me is the ultimate story of good and evil, right and wrong and how we can all fight our own evil in ourselves and help others. Surely by helping others you reduce the evil in your heart. The opening in the wall in the end was bigger and felt easier for Tana to find.
“If you cannot change a situation why not improve the quality of life around you?”
“You see, you’re only chained if you allow yourself to be chained. Your soul, the real you, cannot be put in shackles and will always be free.”
“You can’t possibly make holes in the wall for everyone. I don’t think it works that way,’ Fay said. ‘You’ve seen it with your own eyes. They have to, like you did, create their own doorway.’
‘So, I’ll show them how. I can teach them how to escape, I’m sure I can.’
I had a feeling she didn’t agree with me.
‘I’m not saying you can’t, but how does the old saying go; prevention is better than a cure?”
“The other prisoners and I had one thing in common: our enslavement, chains or not, and there surely would be more people after my leaving, perhaps I had been replaced already.
Am I free?
Even though I could have easily walked away and forgotten all about the mysterious evil wizard and his slaves, I just couldn’t. Until then, my freedom was still in chains.”
After nearly ten years of being thrown backwards and forwards, of living in doubt and insecurities, of a life half lived in freedom, half in chains, I managed to free myself from my own forged shackles. But, complete freedom is of course a big word. I will always have my responsibilities as we do, some I created, but since then I’m much stronger and aware and am no longer shackled. The chains I wear these days or made of invisible soft silver cords.
I’m even more conscious of the meaning of freedom and what we are all doing with it once we have it, or what we do to get it back when we don’t.
Every day in freedom is a gift. Many don’t have it and are still fighting that struggle, some have lost their lives.
We are all bound to each other through invisible, silver lines as I call them. They are not just those attached to our family and friends, but to everyone. I believe we owe it to others who are less fortunate and need our help, even if we don’t know them.
We cannot help everyone, but everyone can help someone.
‘Chained Freedom’ is available here:
Listen to the book here:http://www.booktrack.com/read/d9408688c713442e8476cf3a46693f5a
We live in a world built on absolutes. Right and wrong. Win or lose. Polarised views. Religious, racial and political divides.
But what if life is not that simple? What if the world is not that straightforward?
We explain everything what we see and what happens in definite terms. Right or wrong? Good or bad? What if it’s possible to be just a little bit right and just a little bit wrong? What if life is not a matter of right or wrong, winning or losing? Not black and white? What if life is actually played out in grey areas? What if it is time for stories to reflect this?
How are right and wrong defined?
In religion, ethics and philosophy, “good and evil” is a common dichotomy. It is the concept of all human desires, behaviours and values. A dualistic spectrum-wherein in one direction is life and continuity (good), and in the other there is death and destruction (evil).
Good is a sense of having the right desirable quality.
Likewise, most religious and philosophical interpretations agree that evil behaviour itself is an aberration; one that defies any understanding, save that the path of evil is one of confusion and excessive selfish desire (greed).
It is the differentiation of intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are “good” (or right) and “bad” (or wrong).
Religious and philosophical views both tend to agree that goodness is built-in to human nature and is ultimately based on the natural love, bonding and affection that people grow to feel for other people and creatures alike.
We can argue about what sorts of things are good, but we all know what love is, or feel the loss of it when we don’t.
Morality ultimately comes down to sympathy and fellow feelings for others. That is something we share with other intelligent ‘higher’ species, which have a conscious.
But it seems that we are the only species that understand when we do wrong when we do, or to better put it; know when we do wrong and still do it. That is what separates us, I believe. What makes us human.
Is darkness just less light?
“Why do men kill?” “Because they can.” Quote from ‘Call Off The Search’.
We all are the sum of our experiences; we are what we get fed with from an early age. We become what we know. We learn and live by example. Is that true?
Like in nature, if an animal does not receive any form of love, physical contact, a warm start in life, and example in how to behave socially, they can’t recognize nor give love.
It seems that love is the key.
Deprivation of love and affection in a child leads to insecurity, a lack of, or very low, self-esteem, and it won’t know how to deal with attention and will seek it out somehow later on in life, as if to fill a void to compensate. Some children that were abused will as an adult even choose an abusive or violent partner, for that is all they have ever known. Another theory is that they want to be in control because it was taken away from them in an early life. Sadly, some will even start to abuse their own children. They often have a twisted sense of right and wrong. They have never received honest love and can therefore not give from their heart. And thus the cycle will continue…
Someone’s background is crucial if we want to understand certain behaviour. For me as an author it is very important to investigate this subject. I do this in every story I write. The very reasons as to why things happen to a person and the people around them: what makes a protagonist tick, but also how did they get where they are in life? What is their history and how does it impact them?
Our stories simply cannot be black and white any longer. If we want to portray believable characters they will just have to be imperfect. Grey. For no one can be the manifestation of goodness, not even in a story. Not only would it come across as very unprofessional (or boring to say the least), but it would also be very unrealistic, unless you limit yourself to writing fairy-tales.
But even modern fairy-tales have changed their course. It is a hopeful change and a proof that people are starting to understand that every bad thing usually has a good reason.
Take for example the ‘Star Wars’ series by George Lucas that explores the background of Darth Father and how he became evil. And what about the book (and musical) ‘Wicked’, by Gregory Maguire, that explains the history of the Wicked Witch of the West, and the fact she didn’t die?
For isn’t that usually the case; that the wrongdoer dies at the end? What else are we suppose to do with them? The audience wasn’t ready for anything else in the seventies, but we are now.
Just like in all fairy-tales the audience wanted, or expected, a gratifying end with ‘Star Wars’ and ‘The Wizard Of Oz’. But as time went on we grew ready for, not only the questions, but also the answers.
Even more interesting is the movie ‘Maleficent’, a Disney retelling of Snow-white, in whereby the story not only focuses on the why and how “the evil stepmother” became evil. This story does more. It is the opposite of what we are so used to reading in stories like these: the “evil” one does not die in the end, but changes back from evil to being good! That seems to be something new entirely!
“I believe that everybody deserves a second chance.” ‘City of Dreams’
In fairy-tales and High Fantasy, good and evil are represented very clearly, more than in any other genre. Especially Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘The Lord of The Rings’. The elves, dwarves, men and hobbits are on the good side, the orcs are clearly on the dark side. However, there is one character that is different: Gollum. Gollum’s desire for the Ring is not his fault. The Ring caused him to have a split personality in the first place. Under centuries of the Ring’s influence, Gollum had come to love and despise the Ring, just as he loved and hated himself. Throughout the story, Gollum was torn between his lust for the ring and his desire to be free of it. Gollum wants the ring, but Smeagol doesn’t. In ‘The Two Towers’, Smeagol says that he hates Gollum and wants him to go away.
So no, not evil. Just disturbed.
For is evil not just good tortured by his own hunger and thirst? Are we not all black and white inside? Or rather… grey?
Was that the start of a new change in literature, I wonder?
With my own writing I hope to add to that change. I especially have tried to do so with ‘The Queen’s Curse’ and the “villain” Sempervirens. This sorceress has had a disturbing upbringing which led to her evil ways. In fact, it appears that she is the one that hurts the most.
Someone’s abusive background should never be an excuse for wrong-doing, but an explanation. Can Sempervirens change her evil ways to become good?
Doesn’t change ultimately comes from within?
“I love the girl you once were and the woman you were supposed to be. Not what they made you to be. I do not believe this is all you. You were not responsible what happened to the girl, but the woman you are today can still change, if you just let go of that negative side of yours. Then you can at least start to love yourself…finally.” ‘The Queen’s Curse’
We all know deep down that we love seeing good prevail to give us hope. To feel better and safe again. To make us feel we are not alone perhaps, and give us courage and inner strength.
Justice, revenge, redemption are things we all need to see happening, and if not in real life then let it be in a story. We do what we can in our own little ways and find purpose and meaning, to make a difference, saving the planet by recycling, reducing waste, being kind to animals and each other. Isn’t that good enough?
I write because I want to do more.
My writing acknowledges that there is indeed evil in the world, but there is also good in each and every one of us, and that we can all help each other find it.
And hopefully in the process, when people read my books I will touch some hearts and minds.
Books by Natasja Hellenthal
The Queen’s Curse (lgbt Fantasy) http://smarturl.it/thequeenscurse?IQid=qr
Chained Freedom (Paranormal Fantasy) http://smarturl.it/ChainedFreedomNH
Call Off The Search, Comyenti Series #1 http://smarturl.it/calloffthesearch?IQid=qr
Children Of The Sun, Comyenti Series #2 http://smarturl.it/cots2
The Comyenti Series Book Bundle, Volume 1 and 2 (Supernatural lgbt Fantasy) http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00P1F2TMG
City of Dreams (Fantasy novella, coming 27th of November)
Sky Whisperers (YA Dystopian lgbt Fantasy, coming March 2015)
My facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/authorNatasjaHellenthal
My facebook group (Speculative Fiction Book Club): https://www.facebook.com/groups/568952729881225/
My website: https://natasjahellenthal.wordpress.com/
The comyentis are different; beautiful and mysterious, possessing powers of which humans can only dream. And for this, they are hated, persecuted. For millennia, humanity has murdered and enslaved the peaceful comyentis wherever they find them. Jealous of their ability to merge their minds with animals to use their powers, to empathise with other beings on a deep spiritual level and even hear their thoughts, they seek out and destroy them.
Half-breed Sula, one of the last of her kind, lives in hiding. With not just her own life but her whole species’ held precariously within her hands, she feels the weight of her responsibility. As loneliness and alienation slowly engulf her, an attractive young human enters her world and she is torn. Should Sula trust him? Can she afford not to? Will she be able to overcome her aversion to humans to save her species from extinction? A life as a wandering hermit, or risk everything for love?
Sula’s life becomes further complicated when she meets another comyenti and is forced to make a decision. Follow her head or her heart? ***
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