Guest Post – The Lure of Fantasy

Posted: April 3, 2012 in Guest Appearances, Other Authors
Tags: , , ,

 Today I’m handing the site over to another Etopia Press author, Dianne Hartsock. Her latest book is Nathaniel, and she’s going to give us some background and an excerpt. So heeeeeeres Dianne!

 (I spy the castle of Neuschwanstein! Tris x)

Fantasy: The Siren’s call to adventure and danger and magic. What draws us so irresistibly to the mystique of this genre? Is it the temptation of a world far removed from our own, where beauty and cruelty mix in a dance of fate? A place where heroes wield powers beyond imagining, at least for the other characters in the story?

I say yes to all this, but it’s the flawed, reluctant hero thrust into acts of bravery and leadership he’s never wanted that captures my heart. My hero Taden, from ‘Nathaniel’, is one such man. Enthralled by the magic and beauty of the young sorcerer, he’s pulled into the conflict between two strong forces, with only the strength of a common man to aid his beloved Nathaniel.

Now to make a world for these men. How does one create a world where disbelief is suspended and magic is the norm? I for one keep my worlds simple. I’m no Tolkien, after all! But like Tolkien, my worlds are set in the medieval time period. I’m a hopeless romantic! I thrive on the swordsman and shield maiden and horse warrior.

Nathaniel’s world is very much like our own, with the same laws of physics and gravity, etc. So what’s so fantastical about it? How does it differ from ours? Most of the stories I’ve written are contemporaries, so I needed to find a way to step outside of these known parameters into the unknown.

I decided the change would take place in my characters rather than in the physical world around them. No dragons, pixies or elves for me! Nathaniel’s magic comes from the fact that his people have psychic abilities. Think about it! Even today we have trouble believing in the paranormal. How terrifying it would be for the people of those times to have someone come among them who can manipulate their minds, move objects and control nature with a thought.

The Netherlin people called Nathaniel a witch and want to imprison him. His strengths frightened Taden. But there’s something about the young magic user that calls to him, stirs his heart. This is the story of how Taden overcomes fear and prejudice to be with the man he loves.



Etopia Press:


From the moment Taden rescues Nathaniel from the Sutherlin soldiers’ torture, he finds himself caught in the gaze of the most beautiful eyes he’s ever seen; amazing eyes that hold him thrilled and confused. The Sutherlins are planning to invade the beautiful Tahon Valley, but as Taden secrets Nathaniel from their reach, he finds himself drawn to the young man. Not only does he feel the urge to protect him, but he feels an ache he hasn’t
felt in many long years.


Nathaniel claims to be a traveler from a distant continent, saying he comes in peace. True or not, the youth has powers beyond anything Taden has seen—control over men and animals and the very weather. Taden falls hard for the strange traveler, protecting him not only from the Sutherlins but from his own mistrustful people, who don’t understand Nathaniel’s powers and accuse him of being a witch




Taden edged closer to the men in the clearing, careful not to snag his cloak on the fragrant scrub brush concealing him. The two Sutherlin soldiers had stripped their captive of his shirt and his chest glistened with sweat in the firelight. His head hung heavily, arms stretched between two trees. A mop of blond curls hid his face. Taden’s knuckles whitened on the hunting knife in his hand as a soldier struck the prisoner in the face, making him cry out. Taden could see the dark bruising on his torso. This wasn’t the first time he had been beaten.

The second man slammed a balled fist into the prisoner’s abdomen and laughed at his grunt of pain. It was too much. Maybe he was being a fool for interfering, but he couldn’t stand by and watch the needless cruelty. He eased from hiding and silently closed the distance between him and the soldiers.

The closest man was raising his fist again when Taden reached him. He threw an arm around the soldier’s neck and jerked, exposing the vulnerable throat. The smell of sweat and fear filled his nostrils as he drew his blade in a quick motion across the knotty windpipe. Hot blood spilled over the back of his hand. The soldier wheezed and slumped heavily in his arms.

Taden threw the dead man from himself and started for the other, but his prey had no stomach for a fight and ran into the trees. Taden sprinted after him. He couldn’t allow the man to reach his companions. He caught the soldier within heartbeats with his longer stride and plunged the knife into the man’s back with both hands. Thrown off balance, they both went down hard on the forest floor. Taden scrambled to his knees and straddled the screaming soldier. He jerked the knife free and thrust it again into the blood soaked uniform. The keen blade severed bone and muscle, seeking the heart.

The soldier’s life pumped out around the knife handle and Taden swore bitterly, witness to the terror on the face pressed into the dirt. A boy playing at being a man. “Damn them,” he fumed. The Sutherlins had no scruples about whom they sent out to fight.

He tucked a blond curl of hair behind the boy’s ear as he muttered his soldier’s prayer, stirred to sadness for the one in the young man’s life who would never have the pleasure of that small intimacy again. Taden climbed to his feet, bone weary and heartsick, and tugged the hunting knife from the soldier’s back. A twig snapped as he wiped it clean in the dirt, making his heart pound, but it was only the scurry of a small animal in the brush. He took a last look at the dead soldier then made his way back through the moonlit forest towards the flickering fire and the young man bound to the trees.

The prisoner had his feet planted apart, knees locked to keep from sagging against the bindings, but blood slicked his wrists and ran down his forearms from where the ropes bit into the skin. His head was lowered and Taden wondered if his strength had given out.

“Hello? Don’t be afraid,” he said carefully. “I come without enmity.”

The prisoner lifted his head and Taden was caught in the gaze of the most beautiful eyes he’d ever seen, clear green with a starburst of gold at the pupils, amazing eyes that held him confused and thrilling. The look brushed against the lonely spot in his heart he kept deeply buried. Then the man blinked and Taden felt released, as if he’d been spellbound. His heart lurched at the exhaustion in the oval face.

The captive dropped his head as he lost consciousness and Taden slung an arm around his waist, supporting the dead weight. He groped for the hunting knife at his belt and cut the ropes, finding the prisoner a lesser burden than he’d feared as he carried him through the trees to the horse hidden in a nearby glen.


Thanks for having me as your guest, Tris! You can find me here:

Dianne Hartsock






  1. Thanks so much, Tris, for having me over!

  2. [...] on the fabulously talented Tristram La Roche’s website today talking about Taden, my reluctant hero. Come and tell me who your hero is, in real [...]

  3. Hope you sell shedloads, Dianne!

  4. Jennifer Lowery says:

    Enjoyed the excerpt and post! I love a flawed hero, a reluctant one is even more fun to read! Thanks, Dianne!

  5. Elin Gregory says:

    Nice post, both. :) I love a good fantasy novel. There are so many possibilities to explore.

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