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Fantasy author talks process page 2
Author and college professor uses experience and imagination to create fantasy novels

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Date published: 11/2/2010

By Rob Hedelt


They have a son, and that boy and three other children in the neighborhood discover powers and play a role in defeating the evil Fomorii, a nasty bunch bent on conquering Earth and the home world of Faerie.

Rochelle, who was himself a librarian for a decade or so in North Carolina, used that experience to make his character ring true in the book, and to set the conflict in a world he could describe with detail that feels real.

The author was born in Durham and raised in Chapel Hill, and he got his master's and doctoral degrees from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. He not only drew heavily on his time in North Carolina to get the landscape right, he even returned to Roanoke Island and a spot called the Devil's Tramping Ground to refresh his memory.

"I'm really interested in something called 'urban fantasy,' putting otherworldly characters and happenings in everyday settings," he said of the book, where a great deal of action happens in spots all across North Carolina.

This author said he's taken facets of many different mythologies and earth views, from those of the Celts, Cherokee, Wiccans, Scotch-Irish and the Mayans, to weave the fabric of the world he creates in his fantasy tales.

He notes that planning and inspiration are a part of his writing process.

"I do create a story arc first, to have an idea where the story and my characters are going," he said of his unique group that include youngsters challenged by abuse and more.

But there's still room for inspiration as he writes, something a sabbatical from Mary Washington helped make time for in the creation of "The Called."

Rochelle credits two college professors--Doris Betts and Fred Chappell--for teaching him the art of storytelling and for looking to things like a local dialect, folklore and oral tradition.

It's all there in these two fantasy novels that have both adult situations and the struggles of childhood, serious battle-like action and magic's childlike wonder.

Rochelle said that in his fantasy courses, he underscores the need to write so situations feel real.

"That doesn't mean you have to know what killing or dying feels like; you obviously couldn't," he said. "But you do have to approach it in a way that makes sense for your characters, so they are true to themselves. And so they follow the rules of the universe and situation you've created."

In a long chat about our favorite fantasy and science fiction, Rochelle and I found much common ground.

Including being blown away by "Star Trek" as impressionable youngsters.

And enjoying "The Lord of the Rings" as much the third or fourth time around.

Rob Hedelt: 540/374-5415
Email: rhedelt@freelancestar.com

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THE CALLEDBy Warren Rochelle(Golden Gryphon Press)