My delight in fantasy stories began with an encounter with The Hobbit when I was six years old. Later, I studied anthropology and the psychology of religion, and eventually became a psychologist who helps children, teenagers, and adults. One of my interests is looking for ways that people can balance creativity and fantasy with a life that is full in other ways. To keep the gates open for myself between cities and nature, I have lived in places such as New York City, Tucson, New Orleans, and Michigan, my current home .
My Literary Ancestors
JRR Tolkien’s "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings."
Of course. The ancestor of not only my novels, but most of today’s fantasy, High and Low, in books, movies, and even video games. (A path runs from The Lord of the Rings through Dungeons & Dragons to World of Warcraft, which my character Dan plays.) These classics are usually thought of as High Fantasy, set completely in a fantasy realm, so how can they also be ancestors to Low Fantasy, in which the real world encounters a fantasy world (a central theme of my books)? Because of the brilliant creation of hobbits, who despite the hairy feet are essentially normal English people who start out unaware of the fantastic wider world they are about to encounter.
Tolkien gave us a world that is both hugely inventive and deeply rooted in traditional folklore. Not to mention that it is just plain exciting.
Alan Garner’s "The Weirdstone of Brisingamen."
Not nearly as well known as Tolkien, this gem is in some ways closer to my novels because it is about a magical world needing the help of a boy and girl from the normal world—and also about other things from the magical world trying to kill them. Like Tolkien, hugely inventive, deeply rooted in traditional folklore, and just plain exciting.
As my character Dan might say, “OK, this is weird.” What is the original psychoanalyst doing on the same page with those fantasy novels? Well, Freud understood that fantasy and dreams are important, and he taught ways of finding meaning in all aspects of life, even those that seem most trivial. Even though many of his conclusions were mistaken, his method of exploration is powerfully enriching and provides the underpinning for most effective forms of psychotherapy. And he won the Goethe Prize for literature in honor of his writing style.