September 23, 2019

Reality Isn’t for Me: a Guest Post by Author Ciara Ballintyne

Today I’m excited to have one of my favorite people on the blog to talk about a wonderful new group.I first met author Ciara Ballintyne on Twitter. Upon discovering that we both write fantasy, a connection was made. After reading the pointed guest post that she contributed for today’s blog, I’m more convinced than ever that we’re kindred spirits.

I look forward to your thoughts on escapism. What do you seek from the books you read? I hope you’ll let us know in the comments below. For now, let’s turn things over to Ciara!

My Refuge, My Solace, My Inspiration

People disappoint me. I try not to expect too much, but even if I dial my expectations down to what I consider fundamental, basic human decency, I am still disappointed. Then I usually get depressed. For example, I was shocked to discover something like 10% of the Australian population has suffered child abuse. In this day and age, in a Western civilisation that does not condone such behaviour, I found that appalling. It’s not a grey area.

I could list other examples, but I shouldn’t like to depress you. You know them, anyway. They litter the news stories, the more graphic, the more horrific, the more appalling, the better.

I like to think most people are better than that. I need to believe it. I’m sure there are good people doing good things, but their stories so rarely make it to the news – after all, there’s no shock value in it, is there? And that very tendency of news outlets is, in itself, depressing.

So I read fiction. And I don’t read reflections of our lives, I read speculative fiction, and often a lot of high fantasy. Because here the good guys always win. Here the hero is noble and idealistic. There’s no complications of proving guilt in a court of law with circumstantial evidence. There’s no light sentence handed down for mitigating circumstances. These are all realities of life, but often depressing ones. Here, the hero lops off the evil-doers heads, and we don’t concern ourselves with the fact in our world it would be ‘vigilante justice’, because we know he’s right – and we applaud him. We’re only glad the bad guy got his just desserts, and we don’t need to concern ourselves with the rules of this world, because the story occurs in another world.

I take solace in these tales. However flawed the hero, he nearly always does the right thing in the end. People are writing these stories, and people are reading them. Surely they feel the same way I do, dissatisfied by the atrocities committed by human against human, and looking for the good in people? People don’t want reality – they want to see what reality might be, what people maybe should be, the potential and the beauty of the human spirit.

Sure, it’s escapism, but it helps me keep my sanity. And it inspires me to be a better person.

If this sounds like you, you should check out Club Fantasci, a new video book club for speculative fiction. The hosts meet monthly via Google+ Hangout to discuss the book, and you can tune in to watch. You get your say on the discussion boards for the group at Goodreads! I’ve just started a discussion about the trend for some authors to write ‘dark, real and gritty’ fantasy. I found it unsatisfying. I don’t want real. I want my fantasy fix. I want my refuge, my solace, and my inspiration. I don’t want something that makes me feel as rotten as watching the news. What do you think?

The first G+ Hangout is on 31 August at 7:00pm CST, and the Book of the Month for August is ‘The Night Circus’ by Erin Morgenstern. Feel free to drop by our Facebook Page or Goodreads group and make suggestions for future books. I’ll be revealing September’s Book of the Month at the August G+ Hangout.

Here’s a bit more about the club:

Club Fantasci is a book club taking the stigma out of speculative fiction. We want to expose you to the full gamut of the speculative fiction genre, including science fiction, hard SF, militaristic SF, high/epic fantasy, dark fantasy, dystopian, cyberpunk, steampunk, space opera, paranormal, urban fantasy, SFF romance and erotica, and everything in between.

We want to educate readers on good writing in speculative fiction, entertain with witty banter, and above all have a fantastic time. Fiction need not be literary to be well-written, and good writing need not be boring or mundane! We promise you we’ll do our best to bring you a good book every month, and if not, we’ll tell you why it’s not! For a bit of light fun, we’ll also be featuring a wine of the month and picking a song that best fits the book. So bring your book, keep that wineglass topped up, and don’t forget your i-pod!

Your hosts are David Lowry, Dionne Lister (author of Shadows of the Realm), entertainment personality and model Shannon Million, and myself – your resident fantasy writer/lawyer extraordinaire combo!

Club Fantasci is also featuring a ‘Wine of the Month’ – August’s pick is a 2011 ‘Suited Muscat’ from Sort This Out Cellars Winery in Las Vegas, NV. Club members are entitled to a discount – check out the club Facebook page for more information.

You can learn more about us by:

Joining our group on Goodreads

Liking our Page on Facebook

Checking out our Website

~     ~     ~     ~     ~

I couldn’t agree more, Ciara! Give me a great escape any day. I don’t even watch the news. Thanks so much for stopping by…you can bet there will be a lot of interest in Club Fantasci!

What are your thoughts on escapism, readers? Please show some comment love!


  1. Patricia says:

    Hi Ciara,
    Like you , i did escape reality and the ever present horrors on the News by filtering these through fiction, steering clear of tortured writers writing about rape, torture etc.
    Yet, i have good news for you. Unbeknowst to the non-geek population, a quiet revolution is taking place and is not making the news.
    The “cloud” mentality is growing. The very nature of Internet success for start-ups is increadingly based on “the more you give, the more you get”.
    As fiction reading has protected my natural optimism, I see that quiet revolution as a good sign for teh future of humanity, especially as teh Internet permeates our lives and this latent shift in mentality will overtake corporate greed in one or two generations, or so I like to believe.

    • I haven’t come across that revolution, but it heartens me to know it exists. My early internet experiences were fairly negative and depressing – when instant chat programmes started, such as Yahoo! Messenger, it seemed they existed solely for the porn industry and cheating spouses. Yahoo! Messageboards were a bit more encouraging, where there seemed a real population of people trying to offer useful advice to others. Twitter, and the writing community in particular, has been an even more positive experience.

  2. Lorca Damon says:

    I find that the escape helps me deal better when I do have to face reality. I work in a very rewarding but emotionally draining field, and I come home each day to a profoundly handicapped child. The little moments of fantasy and escape actually make me more grounded when I’m back down on Earth. Thanks for the post!

    • I agree, Lorca – law can also be very draining, particularly with small clients whose family businesses may depend on me getting them a good outcome. I can understand how coming home from that to a handicapped child is difficult as well – the hard work never ends. We all need our releases so we can rest, recharge and unwind so we can face it all again tomorrow.

  3. Your group sounds amazing and I hope to be able to at least listen in to your discussions. I read the kind of fiction I enjoy, because I like the characters. I love a good series because I get to follow the characters for a longer period of my time and that’s what drives my love of reading, the characters.

    It so happens that most of the fiction written in series format is fantasy, science fiction, or speculative fiction, as it might be called, so this is all right in my reading wheelhouse. I absolutely read it to escape what’s on the television news or even in the newspaper most mornings: people doing bad things to one another.

    I must confess, I don’t like my fiction to always have the good guys win, at least not 100% of the time. I do find it more appealing though when the bad guys aren’t likely to step through time into my bedroom with their horrifying long swords and sorcery, or visit me from another universe and try to take over Earth. Causes me a little less anxiety than the evening news ;)

    • Ha, yes, I’m not a fan of fiction that gives me nightmares or disturbs my sleep. I admit I do enjoy Criminal Minds, but I had to give up watching it right before bed!

      Would love to have you come along and watch our first meet-up.

  4. I’m pretty excited about the book club. Not normally genres I would read, so I think this is a good way for me to experience it–by being able to talk about the books with others. And of course, there’s wine.

  5. Oh yes, wine lubricates many wheels :-) Look forward to trading thoughts with you Kelly – I’m not at liberty to discuss my thoughts on The Night Circus just yet, but I suspect we may have similar views…

  6. Hi Ciara!

    I went by and joined the club. I’m assuming you will take MG/YA twins of all fantasy and scifi! Anyway before I started writing I too would get lost in a book. I started writing at a young age since I experienced the worst of peer behavior via bullying. I would get lost in my own worlds by writing or someone else’s world by reading so the pain of isolation, loneliness, and taunting didn’t affect me so much after the school day.

    I hardly watch the news because it does suck. It makes you have a very negative view of the world.

    • Welcome to the club! I don’t believe we are making any age distinction at this time, although of course we are spread across so many sub-genres it will take us a while to work through everything! We are open to book suggestions either on our FB page or Goodreads discussion group, so feel free to drop by if there’s something you’dn like us to review.

  7. Reality sucks often, so I’m with you on the escape into fantasy. Can’t wait to get you posted tomorrow. ;-)

  8. Laura W. says:

    I agree about going to fiction to escape everyday horrors. For instance, the abuse statistic that you mentioned is made even more depressing by the likelihood that only 10% of Australians have ever *reported* being abused.

    However, I also like to read fiction where characters face the same horrors we hear about in the news and deal with them. They might come away triumphant or not, but in any scenario, they have faced some challenge and changed. I think fiction like that is important for people who have been in similar situations; it’s the “you’re not alone” message.