Fools in Fiction

 

My brave girl’s quest is a fool’s errand, but I’m proud of her spirit.

– Abram Abernathy, The Revisionary

Fool. The word can be a loaded insult or a joking comment. It can have the intent to correct or ring with resigned sadness.

In The Revisionary, Portia’s father describes her plan to rescue Darius as a “fool’s errand,” and in doing so, implies the futility of her cause. Although she may be short-sighted, he still admires her determination.

Fools in fiction (and real life) are complicated people. They may or may not fit the ordinary definition of a person who lacks sense or good judgment.

The simple fool

The easiest to spot is the simple fool. Perhaps the character lived a spoiled or sheltered childhood and now must cope with a sudden crisis. The first who comes to mind is Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind. Accustomed to always getting her way, she doesn’t know how to react when Ashley Wilkes, the man she thinks she loves, rejects her. As a result, she makes a series of reckless choices.

“Fools” like Scarlett have the potential to grow, learn from their mistakes, or recognize they have missed the big picture (marks of a dynamic or developing character). This type of growth is what Portia’s father hopes will help his daughter come to terms with the ugly reality of their situation.

The other alternative for the naive character is to prove stubbornly foolish and let the consequences of their choices destroy them (tragic character).

The satirical fool

In classic literature, the fool served as a stock “jester” character, but Shakespeare often used the fool’s role ironically as a spokesperson of truth. For example, the clown Feste in Twelfth Night is anything but a dim-wit. Although his occupation confines him to speaking in jest, he uses his “foolery” to reveal flashes of shrewdness and truth.

For example, he enters a verbal sparring match with the Lady Olivia, who is mourning the presumed death of her brother.

Clo. Good madonna, why mournest thou?
Oliv. Good fool, for my brother’s death.
Clo. I think his soul is in hell, madonna.
Oliv. I know his soul is in heaven, fool.
Clo. The more fool, madonna, to mourn for your brother’s soul
being in heaven. — Take away the fool, gentlemen.

Clearly, Feste is anything but a fool. In fact, he may be wiser, at least initially, than the main characters themselves.

However, there is a third kind of fool. We can also learn from this person, but we must beware his dangerous qualities.

The self-destructive fool

“My professor … He doesn’t want me asking questions,” I whisper. “But I have so many.” – Portia, The Revisionary

Professor Mortimer teaches Portia’s Simulation class and cruelly punishes those who suggest they can learn from the past civilization. By forcing students to think a certain way, he limits them from actually discovering the truth.

The Bible has much to say about this type of fool.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. – Proverbs 1:7 (ESV)

The book of Proverbs paints a clear picture of self-destructive fools and warns others to avoid their pitfalls:

  • They hate knowledge (Proverbs 1:22)
  • They are complacent (Proverbs 1:32)
  • They say slanderous things (Proverbs 10:18)
  • They will destroy themselves (Proverbs 10:21)
  • They see themselves as “right” and justify themselves (Proverbs 12:15)
  • They have a quick temper (Proverbs 14:17)

Lessons from fools

If we can recognize these types of “fools” in fiction, we can also be more aware when we encounter them in our actual lives. Beyond that, we can recognize any foolish tendencies in ourselves.

That’s the beauty of fiction. Although it’s primary purpose is to evoke an emotional response in the the reader (typically to entertain), it also serves a second purpose: to reveal truth through story.

Think of the most memorable fiction characters, fool or otherwise, that you’ve encountered. What makes them memorable? What lessons do their stories teach?

~ Kristen

 

Tweetables

Fools in Fiction: Can you spot them? – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

What fictional fools can teach us about real life – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

The Revisionary Cover: An Unlikely Story

We all like unwrapping presents on our birthdays. For my birthday this year, I wanted to “unwrap” something my readers could enjoy with me.

So, I asked my editor Marji if I could share my new book cover with my readers today, and she said yes!

I can’t wait to share the story “inside” the cover with you on June 6 (release day), but today, there’s another story to tell. It’s the one that made this cover possible and one that began in an unlikely place.

The Story behind the Cover

The year was 2007.

I had recently graduated from college and started a job at a marketing company. A few cubicles over from my station sat Kelli, a graphic designer who soon became my friend.

On her screen, she made “magic,” my word for it looks amazing but I have no idea how you did that. (Trust me. Making a safety product catalog look exciting takes skill.) Anyone could see Kelli put her heart into her work. I thought to myself: If she can make a safety catalog appear that incredible, what can she do with a creative project like a book cover?

At the time, I was working on my second book and wanted to use Amazon’s CreateSpace  to publish. This platform offered me the flexibility to upload my own book cover or have someone on Amazon’s team design it.

But I didn’t want a stranger designing my cover. I wanted a friend, and I was confident Kelli could capture my vision. On the side, she did some freelance work, so I shared my idea with her.

Then, she worked her “magic,” not once, but twice—designing the covers for both my second and third books in the Wings of the Dawn trilogy.

A New Leaf

Since then, Kelli and I have both moved on in our careers and lives. She’s married with a darling little boy and has also started her own design business called Make It Snappy.

When I signed with Write Integrity Press for my new trilogy, I wasn’t sure if I would be able to work with Kelli again. Publishing houses typically prefer their own design teams.

But I decided to ask anyway, and to my delight, my editor approved for me to work with Kelli. We would then review her designs together and go from there.

That brainstorming meeting at Panera was electric. Kelli and I were bursting with creative energy and ideas. We received our share of stares from other guests, wondering what all the buzz was about.

Today, you get to find out.

Gratitude and a Parting Challenge

With deep gratitude to my friend Kelli and editor Marji, I’m thrilled to present the cover for Rogues, Book 1: The Revisionary.

Looking back, I can see how God worked in my ordinary circumstances, allowing me to build relationships that would have a direct bearing in my writing journey. Kelli’s story is just one of many I could share.

Maybe your current situation isn’t ideal. Maybe you’d rather be someplace else. I encourage you to make the most of the relationships and opportunities, limited though they may seem, that are before you. You never know how your current experiences will shape the future God has in store.

~ Kristen

 

Tweetables

The Revisionary Cover: An Unlikely Story – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

God uses ordinary circumstances to shape your future – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

4 Countdowns for YA Fiction Fans


We Americans like a good countdown. We count as the ball drops on New Year’s Eve. Students (and teachers) count the days to summer break. Couples count their calendars for the “big day” or a baby’s arrival.

In Florida’s Space Coast, people visit Cape Canaveral and wait hours for a front row seat at a shuttle launch. (To date, I haven’t experienced a launch first hand, but the pictures look incredible.)

Maybe you’ve never seen a rocket launch either. However, if you’re a fan of young adult (YA) fiction, I’d like to invite you to a “launch” of a different kind for my upcoming release, The Revisionary.

Countdown #1: The Revisionary Cover Reveal

I can’t wait to share the cover design for The Revisionary and the story that goes along with it!

Eight days and counting …

Countdown #2: ASU Flag Design Contest

I teach English for Alpha Omega Academy and have invited students to design their version of the ASU pennant (the fictitious flag of my dystopian society). The top 10 designs will be posted right here on my blog for you to vote on. The winner’s name and design will be published in the book itself!

Look for more details at the end of April.

Countdown #3: Pre-Order Dates and Bonus Feature

You can pre-order The Revisionary as early as May 2! Those who pre-order Kindle versions will also receive an extra bonus story, a short novelette that gives you a glimpse into my heroine’s childhood and sets the stage for book one.

I’ll post more details in May.

Countdown #4: Launch Date

On Tuesday, June 6, both print and electronic versions of The Revisionary release.

If you want to join these “countdowns” with me, what can you do?

  • Share posts, updates, and pictures (like the one here) with your friends. If you’re not a teen, that’s okay! Although I wrote this book for young adults readers, I like to say I also write for “the young at heart” (and include myself in that category).
  • In the next few months, several people will review my book, and I’ll share links to their reviews. Pass those along, please.
  • When you get your own copy, I want to hear from you! Tag me in a picture with you and your book. Leave an Amazon review, and share it with your friends.
  • Closer to the launch date, I’ll create a Facebook event for an online launch party. I’d love for you to join! Connect with me on my Facebook page so I can invite you.

Countdowns are better with friends! Will you join me?

Kristen

 

Tweetables

4 Countdowns for YA Fiction Fans – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

The Revisionary: New YA Fiction Coming Soon – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)