Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Female Protagonists and Diversity in Fantasy by author Nathan Chandler

Warrior of the WayTitle: Warrior of the Way
Author: Nathan Chandler
Publisher: iUniverse
Pages: 376
Genre: Fantasy
Format: Ebook
 Purchase at AMAZON 

Civil war is a curse that touches everyone, including King Tashdar of the Mulamar. When he is ordered by a powerful and mysterious stranger to send warriors toward Kanai and Kadisha to slaughter everyone, Tashdar has no choice but to obey. As the Hebari emperor’s palace is invaded, only one man escapes—a captain of the guard to whom the emperor has entrusted the safety of his remaining two children. Moments later, the emperor’s legacy is erased from the face of the earth. More than forty years later, Pasha Nuvahli of the Sashramans tribe, greatest of the king’s warriors, is devastated when his wife is murdered and his son is kidnapped. Overcome with despair as war and a dangerous sorcerer threaten the southern tribes, Pasha soon finds himself in a crisis of faith as he ponders why Daiyu has allowed such sorrow to befall him. But after he learns of an ancient prophecy and his hidden connection to the last emperor of the south, Pasha is sent by King Juktan to seek an alliance with the five other Hebari tribes and lead them against an ancient enemy from the north. Suddenly, his life takes on a new meaning. In this compelling story, a worried king looks to his greatest warrior to unify the south with the hope the young soldier can save his people before all is lost forever.


Female Protagonists and Diversity in Fantasy
Nathan Chandler

I have always found stories told from the female perspective to be intriguing, thoughtful and full of nuance that you don't always get from stories with male protagonists. In my book “Warrior of the Way” my main protagonist is male but I tried to build thoughtfulness and nuance around the character Pasha Nuvahli like you might see in a female driven narrative. Pasha is also influenced by many strong female characters who give him perspective and a new direction to follow when he's feeling lost.

            Stories told through the lens of female protagonists also give readers like me a window into female lives and issues they face which we might be exposed to otherwise. But then some might ask; should writers write female driven narratives for the sole purpose of convincing men of a woman's worth or should writers write stories that are simply good and then expect a diverse audience to follow?  I don't think of it as an either or choice. In reality it should be a mixture of both. Writers should write more stories with female protagonists and focus on writing a good story that can also inform those who read it. I strongly believe in writing stories that leave a lesson or moral if you will for the reader.

            I try to do that with Pasha Nuvahli in “Warrior of the Way”; many of the things he goes through are lessons that he internalizes and which the reader might also get something out of. Trials of faith, skepticism and depression are all issues that Pasha deals with but by and by he gets through them. I think reading through Pasha's ordeals might help some readers internalize some message that might help them get through whatever they might have going on.

            As for diversity in fantasy. I think there needs to be more. Some writers are afraid of writing about people of other races and backgrounds because they're afraid of getting it wrong or being accused of getting it wrong. Others don't even think that fantasy can be a diverse genre. These oversights and misplaced fears hold back the power of the fantasy genre in many ways and prevent it from becoming a genre well read by many diverse audiences and not just those who are young and Anglo. Many African, Asian, and Latino groups have fantasy cultures and stories that could be incorporated well into narrative fiction. Fantasy writers can increase their readership substantially by writing stories that are more diverse and I hope they start doing so more often. There are a lot of minority readers and some of them like the fantasy genre. I don't think reaching that market segment is as hard as some in the industry seem to think.

            People want stories with characters who are lively and different in worlds they haven't seen before. The old European state fantasy model is a good one, and I enjoy stories like that but there needs to be more available than just that kind of fantasy story. There is a genuine hunger for more fantasy stories reflecting more diverse people and I encourage writers out there to meet that need.

Nathan Chandler received an associate’s degree in technical Spanish translation from Oklahoma State University–Oklahoma City and currently attends the University of Oklahoma, where he is majoring in international business with an emphasis in Chinese language. Nathan resides in Norman, Oklahoma, where he continues to write.

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