Quote of the Moment

"What's Past Is Prologue." - William Shakespeare

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Liz Coley - Extraordinary People

Today we have another guest blog! This one is by author Liz Coley. If you'd like to know more about her, please scroll to the bottom of the article.

Extraordinary People by Liz Coley

Back in 1976, Judith Guest wrote the very influential YA novel Ordinary People about a troubled teen in a dysfunctional family trying to survive the death of the oldest son. By the end of the book, the most this kid will be able to save is himself and his relationship with his father. He's an ordinary person.

In science fiction and fantasy, when the protagonist is a teenager, the kid is far from ordinary. Think Ender Wiggin, Frodo Baggins, Katniss Everdeen, Miles Vorkorsigan, Luke Skywalker. Think Harry Potter. The stakes are huge--save the world, save the empire, defeat ultimate evil. The teens who star in adventures of huge consequence can't be ordinary, not even in a "well, everyone is special in their own way" version of ordinary. They have particular grit, particular grace, particular cunning, particular vision, particular maturity. They see a world of hope and possibility. They step out in front of the adults--they step up to carry the ring, build a personal army, save the world, lead the way. Their voices aren't those of adolescents wondering the usual adolescent wonders--can I get a date? am I too fat? why are my parents such dorks?--at least not most of the time. They aren't navel gazers. Their eyes are up and on the distant horizon, or higher even, in the stars.

Science fiction and fantasy readers, at least those I know, read to escape the ordinary; we read to think about and experience the extraordinary for a while. The what-ifs are large, cosmic even. Readers who haven't grown up immersed in these genres don't entirely get it. Why would you read that? they ask. It's so unrealistic.

That's the whole point. It's unrealistic. It's inspiring.

But then is this likely? A thirteen year old boy scaled Everest--could he have climbed Mt. Doom? A sixteen-year old girl circumnavigated the world solo--could she have led a space fleet to another planet? Several kids have taken on the evil of genocide in Darfur--could they take on Voldemort? A teenaged girl with visions led a defeated French army to victory--would she have rallied the Earth to fight off invading Martians?

In my just-released novel Out of Xibalba, a teenager from Ohio finds herself stranded in the deep past, alone in the waning days of the Mayan Empire. Mistaken for the goddess Ix Chel, she has to figure out not only how to survive, but how to give this catastrophe meaning. By changing the world, of course.

There are extraordinary voices, people who aren't like most of us. There are extraordinary teens with exceptional talent and drive and initiative and maybe even magic. Between the pages and in the real world.

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About the Author

Liz Coley writes science fiction and fantasy for adults and teens. Her short story sales appear in a variety of anthologies: The Last Man Anthology (2010), More Scary Kisses (2011), and the upcoming Bride of the Golem and Strange Worlds Anthology. She has also been published in Cosmos Magazine and Cosmos Online in Australia. Liz has been writing and submitting seriously since 2001, with efforts coming to fruition in 2010/11. Her novel Out of Xibalba is available at Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, and Createspace in trade paper and ebook versions. On the heels of this publication comes the news of her first sale to big publishing--but that announcement will wait for a later blog.

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NEXT UP: A review of Lee Allen Howard's The Sixth Seed.


  1. Liz, I tend to believe that when you've got some good energy started, you attract more good energy.

    Congratulations on an awesome book!

    And, thank you, Alexa, for this wonderful series. It's showcased so many wonderful writers.

    :) Heidi

  2. You always wrote well, and your imagination could float Titanic from the depths. Congratulations. Very curious what your own child thought of your Mayan thriller that I just ordered. Wonderful.

  3. I'm doing a report and i would like to know when you were born. I looked in EVERY website and there's nothing, not even the year!!! :( please tell me!!