I write fantasy because in Grade 8 I read George Orwell's Animal Farm.
Have you read the book? If you haven't I highly recommend you do. On the surface it is a highly entertaining story about farm animals who decide they had enough of their human masters. They get rid of them and work the farm themselves. The last paragraph in the book gave me chills when I read it; brilliant!
If the reader digs deeper, the book is social commentary (satire) on Russian Revolution of 1917 and the birth of Stalin's Communism. My teacher explained how at the time Orwell was writing the novel Soviet Union and UK were war-time allies, and Stalin was held in high esteem; therefore, Orwell disguised his story as a fantasy to make his disgust with the Russian Revolution more palatable to his audience.
Before this moment, I believed that all fantasy was make-believe, but after, I realized the medium can be used to explore sensitive opinions and topics without openly offending anyone. Imagine how ridiculous a world leader would look if he admitted he saw himself as a fantasy pig? Can you see this conversation:
Stalin: Orwell, you are going to Siberia!
Orwell: Why sir?
Stalin: You created malicious negative propaganda about my regime!
Stalin: Animal Farm! It's about me and my friends!!!
Orwell:... No, Sir. It is about a pig named Napoleon and these farm animals...
I, as an author, do not wish to cause offence to anyone, but I do have opinions and ideas that are controversial and that I feel I need to express and explore. By cloaking them in fantasy, I feel safe in not holding back and not worrying about being politically correct.
I write YA fantasy, because I do not want to dwell on the gross and disturbing in my book, but rather on a way of getting past such horrors. I do not know about you as a reader, but I do not need a step-by-step description of the sexual act, murder, dismemberment, torture, rape... to understand the point of the story. Such description's are necessary when that is what the story is about; I'm still disturbed by Andrić's description of the Ottoman torturer putting a pike through a live man in his Nobel winning novel The Bridge on the Drina, but that novel was a commentary on the cruelty of the regime, so I understand the purpose of the scene. I find "adult" fantasy books often include disturbing, overly graphic descriptions for the "realism" or the "shock" factor when they are completely unnecessary to the plot or the momentum of the story.
I'm not saying that YA books do not have disturbing content. The difference is that the authors do not "show" everything!
Warriors of Virtue Epic YA Fantasy Series is a way for me to work through the issues and stereotypes that have come up in my life; a way to organize the chaos in my mind and answer some deep questions. I work very hard to make sure that the series stays rated PG13, even though there are rather many disturbing questions and serious issues that flow throughout the story, such as:
1. Is war a problem or a solution?
2. What is evil?
3. How to deal with bullying and image bashing?
4. What does it mean to be beautiful?
5. How to take charge when you are put in charge, but do not wish to be in charge?
6. What is justice for rape victims?
7. The illusion of a stable government?
8. What is the meaning of life? Why are we on this earth?
9. The importance of education?
10. The importance of family?
11. The importance of love?
15. Book Smarts vs. Street Smarts?
16. Loss of innocence. Is ignorance bliss?
17. What to do when your good intentions lead to disaster?
Reading these questions it's hard to believe that my book is a fairytale comedy, or that it's written for children 12+.
That is the beauty of YA Fantasy; the freedom to say everything, without saying anything.