When asked why she writes fantasy, Carrie Jones, author of Endure, the fourth and final book in the New York Times bestselling Need series lays all the blame at Bigfoot’s feet. “I wanted to find him,” she says. “Every day when I was a kid…I was on a quest for Bigfoot.
“Yes, Bigfoot, the man-beast of the Washington woods, that smelly recluse, subject of horror movies. I, Carrie Elizabeth, would find him in my backyard in Bedford, N.H. I would find him and… and… and…
“Then what? I wondered.
“I hunted Bigfoot the same way I hunt after characters when I write fantasy or speculative fiction. I hunt because I want to dream and to imagine. I hunt because I want to create worlds with other possibilities. I hunt because I want to escape normal.
“Our world is full of responsibilities. We pay bills. We do homework. We get sick. We argue with our relatives. We worry about war and the economy and finding someone to love. Fantasy offers hope. It shows us there are other potential Big-footed ways of living. There are possibilities of lives and worlds greater than our own and if those possibilities can be imagined, maybe our own lives can become grander things. Maybe we can be a boy wizard who defeats the ultimate evil. Maybe we can find an entire new world by leaping through a cupboard. Or even if we can’t be those characters, we can be our own heroes, pushing ourselves to our greatest limits by following their examples.
“When I write fantasy I am stunned by my characters’ abilities to deal with their massive problems and it gives me hope that I can deal with my own. Compared to fighting off a pixie invasion, dealing with the fact that I forgot to pay my cell phone bill is a breeze. I like that. I like the fact that characters don’t give up even when their mentors die; even when they are facing the ultimate evil and they only have a .02% chance of succeeding. I want to be more like that. So I write it.
“If you suck away the every-day complicating details like homework and parents, and make the dramas big you can really hit on those universal truths. You can build stories for kids that are about good and triumph and hope. Kids deserve those kinds of stories. They deserve characters who fight the trolls, who find Bigfoot. They deserve heroes like themselves. They deserve to believe in magic, in their dreams and in themselves.
“I think that as writers we deserve that, too.”
- This is only part of Jones’s essay. Read the essay in its entirety at Hunger Mountain, the literary Journal of the Vermont College of Fine Arts (of which Jones is an alum!).
- The Need series follows teenager Zara White, who begins the story suspecting that there’s a freaky guy semi-stalking her. She’s also obsessed with phobias. And it’s true, she hasn’t exactly been herself since her stepfather died. But exiling her to shivery Maine to live with her grandmother? That seems a bit extreme. The move is supposed to help her stay sane… but Zara’s pretty sure her mom just can’t deal with her right now… Zara couldn’t be more wrong. Turns out the semi-stalker is not a figment of her overactive imagination. In fact, he’s still following her, leaving behind an eerie trail of gold dust. There’s something not right—not human—in this sleepy Maine town, and all signs point to Zara.
- Enjoy an excerpt from Book 1 in the series, Need.
- Collectively the Need series has over 3,500 community reviews and 45,000 ratings on Goodreads.
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Carrie Jones graduated from Vermont College’s MFA program for writing. She has edited newspapers and poetry journals and has recently won awards from the Maine Press Association and also been awarded the Martin Dibner Fellowship as well as a Maine Literary Award. Read more about Carrie Jones at her website.