Guest Post with Fantasy Author, John Dahlgren

Well, I’ve always wanted to be a fiction/fantasy writer for as long as I can remember. Growing up in Sweden with the Nordic sagas and mythologies, not to mention the beautiful and untouched landscapes and ancient forests, I was inspired quite early to write fantasy fiction. My favorite books as a kid (except Hans Christian Andersen) were The Wind in the Willows and Treasure Island as one perhaps can detect a whiff of in the Sagaria books. Scandinavia has had a very long tradition of fairy-tales. Even today, some people (especially out in the country) still put out food on their doorstep for the gnomes, trolls and fairies as to keep them happy and not coming up with mischief. Thankfully, these superstitions are harmless. As a psychologist, I’ve always found fantasy to be the most illimitable form of writing (that is not to say that there are no rules for fantasy. It has to make sense as I learned at Oxford while studying creative and fiction writing).
For me, the experience of being a writer is a pure joy. It’s a great feeling to shut out the everyday world and being transported to a place where almost everything is possible and meet some of the most fascinating characters one can think of. They’re only limited by your imagination. The trilogy Sagariais quite heavy influenced by Scandinavian mythologies and is perhaps more “Saga-like”. The Tides of Avarice- A Sagaria Legend  is more violent and contains some colorful language. After all, when you’re writing a pirate fantasy book, it’s hard to not have a high-seas adventure without swordfights and you can’t have a swordfight without someone being slit from stem to stern. Greed, treasures, rum and tavern brawls are also useful ingredients.
However, both books are intended for the YA and adult audience. I’ve tried to make my characters as fresh and three-dimensional as possible and avoiding clichés as much as possible. That’s one reason I chose to write the books almost entirely in an anthropomorphic way (but in an adult manner). Although the Sagaria books are for teens, I would like to talk about fantasy for children as I think it’s an important topic. The most important element in fairy tales, to me, is the moral choice presented to the hero. The child learns that choices have consequences, and the child can choose what kind of person she wants to be. Only by “going out into the world” does the hero learn, and acquire happiness. The fairy tale is future-oriented and guides the child, so that instead of escaping into a world of unreality, she is given tools to help her develop character and courage to face what the world presents to her. Often the hero is lost, alone, frightened. These are feelings a child identifies with. Yet, her hero is guided and given help along the way because of his determination and courage. In this way, fairy tales work their own kind of magic, for in reading them, the child feels understood and enriched. I think all fantasy books are inspired in one way or the other from what we experience in real life e.g. newspapers, television, history books, personal experiences and so on (at least for me). So reality creates fantasy but then fantasy creates reality (think Jules Verne’s fiction book written in 1865 about traveling to the moon and in 1969 we all know what happened).

So, why has fantasy fiction struck a chord with modern readers? It is partly because fantasy has deep roots in the stories of the past (folklore, myth etc.). It’s also because fantasy is filled with ideals of courage, loyalty, compassion and honor. These are values which sometimes seem lost in a world racked by war, treachery and opportunism. Fantasy opens up a world where everything may be possible. Mainly though, it’s because fantasy fiction holds out the hope of happiness. Fantasy doesn’t deny the existence of sorrow and pain as so many people seem to think. The possibility of failure is absolutely necessary for the sense of the pure joy one feels when victory is finally and with difficulty won. Like a candle-flame, fantasy cast a shadow at the same time that it illuminates. Yet it’s the illumination that’s important. Fairy-tales or fantasy offers the hope that a happy ending is possible and we all need to believe this. Fantasy denies ultimate despair. It holds out the hope for a better world, and signposts the way.
These have been my guidelines when writing fantasy. 
John Dahlgren
Author Biography
Born in Sweden, John Dahlgren grew up close to the vast and untamed landscapes of Scandinavia and was influenced from an early age by the Nordic sagas, fairy tales and mythologies. This enchanting environment triggered his imagination and later inspired him to become a fiction writer.
He went on to study creative and fiction writing at Oxford University and competed in the school’s short story contests each year.
As a trained psychologist and member of the Swiss Psychologist Federation, Dahlgren began writing nonfiction articles for numerous scientific journals and a Swedish magazine. But his passion was fiction, and so he debuted as a novelist in 2011 with the young adult story The Tides of Avarice, a finalist for best Fiction/Fantasy in the International Book Awards and Silver Medal winner inForeWord’s Book of the Year Awards. He released months later a second YA fantasy novel, Sagaria, and is currently engaged in several book projects for both younger readers and adults.

Dahlgren lives now in Neuchâtel, Switzerland with his wife and two children, where he’s worked for the past twelve years as a marketing director at an international pharmaceutical company. 

Three worlds are in immediate danger!
And unfortunately one of them is yours.
After the mysterious kidnapping of his eccentric grandfather, Sagandran Sacks sets out on a rescue mission. Although he suspects things might get strange, he doesn’t expect his search to bring him to a parallel world!
After traveling, or rather falling, into the magical realm of Sagaria (a world that looks like it’s straight out of a fantasy novel), young Sagandran finds himself on a breathtaking rollercoaster ride through every fantasy adventure he could possibly wish for (and some he would wish he hadn’t).
Expect the unexpected at every moment. Chivalrous frogs, bungling wizards, blabbering rodents, captivating trolls, annoying gnomes, magical theme parks, chatting furniture, mad jello puddings, madder ghosts and beautiful but merciless evil-doers are just a few of the encounters that await you! Not to mention, the most powerful and ruthless sorcerer ever who desperately wants your world! Oh, and by the way, he wants your soul too…
 Breathless suspense, helter-skelter adventure and riotous good humor – all the trademarks of a John Dahlgren story are here in abundance.

 
 
BLIMEY!
It’s something all pirates are taught when they’re small, but too many of them forget:
Never get on the wrong side of a librarian.
Especially if the librarian is a lemming!
Sylvester used to read about cannibals, impenetrable jungles, lethal carnivores, mysterious fortune-tellers, voodoo magic, cutthroat pirates, shipwrecks, mutinies, spaceships and much else in his books, but he never thought he’d encounter them for real.
Can Sylvester save his sweetheart, Viola, her frighteningly gritty mom and the other friends he’s acquired along the way? Can he find his long-lost father, rescue his hometown of Foxglove from the murderous rule of its ruthless mayor, and discover true happiness?
Oh, did we mention that Sylvester has mistakenly received the most sought after treasure map ever? This means he also has to escape from the cruelest and craziest pirate captain who ever sailed the seas of Sagaria – the horrifying Cap’n Terrigan Rustbane who will stop at nothing to get his map back! A map which leads to a treasure beyond the wildest dreams of avarice...
It’s kind of a tall order.

But then Sylvester is a librarian. And a lemming.

CONNECT WITH JOHN DAHLGREN

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