Friday, 28 September 2012

Who is your super hero?

            Recently my husband went to speak at a conference run by University students. The young woman who was to introduce him asked him a couple of interesting questions beforehand, in preparation for her introduction. The first was ‘Who is your super hero?’  The second was ‘If you had magic powers what would you like to do with them?’
            My husband was stumped! With a lifetime of experience behind him as an engineer, business manager and CEO, he found the questions bemusing at best. Aspiring to live life like Spider Man, or having Harry Potter powers are very far from his mind set.
            ‘Whatever happened to the values of ‘down to earth responsibility, hard work and commitment’? he later asked me. ‘Why does the younger generation long to escape into fantasy?’
            He introduced his talk to them by challenging them to face the realities of life and to strive to bring about productive, practical changes in their world.
            I must say I agreed with him. As a writer of historical fiction, I am focused on understanding the mistakes and the achievements of those who have gone before, and trying to inspire readers to learn lessons that will help them make the best decisions for their lives. I love to imagine the personal experiences, conversations and interactions of my characters and to pour into them qualities and insight that I believe will inspire and challenge my readers. But my stories are all very down to earth, and based on real people who faced great challenges and struggles.
            This does not negate my desire to present readers with the love of God and the amazing changes He can bring into a person’s life. I believe fully in the power of God to bring about the miraculous, but I believe that the work of God is grounded in our daily walk on this earth and our interactions with the people around us.
            I am often disturbed by the tendency of many young people these days to escape into fantasy, to live half their lives (or more) in some virtual reality they can create digitally, or to interact for the most part through their computers, phones, I-pads etc rather than spending time with real people in real conversations about real issues.
            Am I just old fashioned? I know there are have always been beautiful nursery rhymes, fairy tales and fables, with great lessons for the young, and also great newer stories set in fantasy, which for some readers provide wonderful challenges and inspiration to live the best kind of life. However last week I saw a preview of a new kid's movie where four mythical characters team up; the sandman, tooth fairy - and I think Santa Claus and the Easter bunny were the other two - to help children make the most of their lives. Are we crossing a line into fantasy which is dangerously misleading?
           Perhaps it’s a stage of life thing? Do young people learn better through fantasy and older people through real life experiences? Or perhaps there are many roads to learning, and potential for getting lost along any of them?     
            Recently I read “Common sense is so rare these days, it should be classified as a super power.”  Of course that appealed to me, but may be that's just my age. Or have I lost the child in me too soon? What do you think?  

Carol has written seven novels based on her family history in Australia.
The Oakes Family Saga includes Suzannah's Gold, Rebecca's Dream and The Price of Peace.
The Turning the Tide series includes Mary's Guardian, Charlotte's Angel
and Tangled Secrets with Truly Free to be released in 2013.
The Face of Forgiveness, Carol's fourth novel, can now be read in serial form
under the title Forgiving Michael
You can read more about Carol's other novels on her website  
Or you can contact her on


  1. Oh Carol, what a fascinating blog! You sure ask some curly questions there--but very worthwhile ones. The line I loved the most though was 'spending time with real people in real conversations about real issues'. Just this morning I received a review of my Soul Friend book where the writer commented how as she read, she felt she too was sitting with my mentor just being heard and valued. People long for that, I think. God bless

  2. Hi Carol,
    Many thanks for a thought provoking post. I am like you. I like real conversations and real lives and real people. I am not a fantasy person. However, I do know that a lot of others are different. And fantasy tugs at their hearts. I guess it doesn't matter hugely what makes us tick. But what we do with what tugs at our heart strings.

    Having a super hero is OK. But there are many kinds of super heros. There are those who save the world by moving mountains. There are many many more who do their little bit each day for their families and the world around them by unselfish acts and kind words and change their worlds that way. Which is better?

    Yes, perhaps we are right to think the way we do. But perhaps we also need to hear what young people are saying by their need for fantasy. Fantasy isn't a bad thing. Jesus spoke in parables. Stories are good. And Fantasy is a genre that speaks into some hearts the way real life stories speak into ours.

    It's an interesting idea to ponder over Carol so thank you for sharing it with us.

    I am fantasising now of a world where real lives are lived to the full to share God's glory with our world. :)

  3. I must admit, fantasy and fairy tales are to me like a holiday. I live in the real world with real people and face real issues constantly. Sometimes, it's exhausting and draining on the emotions.

    A few moments lost in a fairy tale world brings me back fresher and ready do deal with reality for a little longer.

    I also think that there is so much idealism and perfection in fairy tales/fantasy, that they are symbolic of man's search for God and an eternity in heaven.

    1. Thanks for that Amanda. I do see where you are coming from and agree that some form of escape is restful and can be very inspiring, and if that's a good story, fiction or fantasy then it's so much better than some other forms of escape.

  4. Thanks for your post,Carol. As I look back on my reading tastes, in my twenties I used to read science fiction. I couldn't get enough of it. Then it suddenly hit me that in every story God was ignored. That turned me off, but I had to discover it myself. In Christian fantasy Christian authors like CS Lewis and his ilk have a definite uplifting message which I think it profitable. Even so, I have gone complete circle where I want realism in my fictional historical stories. I think you coined the word, FACTION. Yet as Amanda says she likes an occasional escape, so it seems there's room for that too. I now enjoy both contemporary and historical but don't read fantasy, so it's very subjective. Still it's a good idea to challenge our youth not to lose themselves in their cyber worlds! Once there realities can seem secondary.

  5. I don't think I coined the term 'faction', Rita. I'm sure someone else said it when I was working through my publishing journey. However, I think it's a great term, and I guess it shows that even in writing about real issues, there's the opportunity and the need to draw on imagination and speculate on possibilities.

  6. Thanks ladies for the comments. I must admit that I was feeling a little sheepish after posting this, as I realise there are quite a few Christian writers who I really respect, both present and past, whose writing is basically fantasy, but who use it to bring a great message to the reader. My concern is about the tendencies I've seen in younger people particulary, to escape in what seems to me to be very unhealthy ways. And there seems to be so many people in the world today who are willing to exploit that. I suppose the challenge is for us all to find ways to use and develop our creativity and imaginations for the best possible purposes; ie for God's purposes.

  7. Interesting post posing some curly questions.