Risingshadow has an opportunity to feature a guest post by Sean Gibson, who is the author of The Part About the Dragon Was (Mostly) True (The Parliament House, Dec 2020).
Sean Gibson is not a professional mini biography writer (if he were, this would be much more compelling). Instead, he’s a marketing professional by day, hangs out with his amazing wife, son, and daughter by night, and writes somewhere in between. He holds a BA in English Literature from Ohio Wesleyan University and an MBA from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, but he really wishes he had been able to matriculate at Hogwarts (he would have been in Hufflepuff for sure). Sean is a fan of sports teams from Detroit, a distressingly large number of bands that rose to prominence in the 1980s, and writing in the third person. He currently resides in Northern Virginia, and, given how much he hates moving, and given that his house has an awesome library, is likely to remain there for some time.
Heloise the Bard #1
by Sean Gibson
Sure, you think you know the story of the fearsome red dragon, Dragonia. How it terrorized the village of Skendrick until a brave band of heroes answered the noble villagers' call for aid. How nothing could stop those courageous souls from facing down the dragon. How they emerged victorious and laden with treasure.
But, even in a world filled with epic adventures and tales of derring-do, where dragons, goblins, and unlicensed prestidigitators run amok, legendary heroes don't always know what they're doing. Sometimes they're clueless. Sometimes beleaguered townsfolk are more hapless than helpless. And orcs? They're not always assholes, and sometimes they don't actually want to eat your children.
Guest post: What the World Needs Now is Ridiculousness, Sweet Ridiculousness by Sean Gibson
Releasing a feather-light comic fantasy in 2020 feels a bit like showing up to a hostile alien invasion armed only with a bag of soup, a sunny disposition, and a penchant for puns—and it turns out the invading army of giant, intergalactic dung beetles is not only impervious to your barrage of homemade chicken noodle, but can’t even appreciate your linguistic gymnastics due to the language barrier, so they just set their ray guns to “excruciatingly painful immolation” and start blasting away.
Everyone’s just the teensiest bit preoccupied with some minor annoyances these days, what with a global pandemic, rampant systemic racism, political buffoonery, the destruction of democracy, murder hornets, raging bushfires and wildfires, massive floods, powerful hurricanes and earthquakes, devastating locust attacks, radiation leaks, global economic recession, the passing of beloved celebrities, roaming hordes of misshapen puppies, scads of counterfeit shoelaces, and a plethora of perplexingly painful paper cuts.
(Distressingly, only three of those things are made up, and they’re the least consequential. It’s been a year. And not even a full one yet.)
Yet, here I come, trip-trapping like some big-nosed billy goat gruff across a bridge of horrors, using a parade of poop jokes to tra-la-la my way past a terrifying, orange-hued troll. Good plan, me.
But, you know what? Maybe that’s not the worst idea. Bear with me here.
There are 7.8 billion methane-excreting inhabitants on this fine planet (some expel more than others, and maybe don’t maintain open flames around me, okay?). We’re going to disagree on stuff. But, our differences shouldn’t define how we engage. They should make us smarter, better, and more interesting.
When we’re stressed beyond our limits, though—like when the aforementioned list of calamities, especially the roving bands of ugly puppies, strikes in rapid succession—we withdraw. Even worse, we lash out at what we perceive as different, and we lack the emotional energy for empathy or critical self-reflection.
In the 41 years I’ve bumbled charmingly across this planet, we’ve never been more divided. We want to take action or to help in some way, but the challenges seem overwhelming. So, what do we do?
In the words of the most exalted and legendary bard Jon Bon Jovi, we do what we can.
I’m not a doctor or a scientist. I’m not an inspirational or spiritual leader and I don’t hold political office. I sit in a privileged position in society, which makes it difficult for me to even fully grasp the depth of so many problems. I have no answers.
But, I am a storyteller. And, maybe there is something I can do. Maybe I can pull you out of the demoralizing morass of catastrophic global events for a few minutes. Give you a smile and help you reset. Even, perhaps, make you laugh.
Maybe someone else will laugh, too, about the exact same thing, the same absurd situation or bit of dialogue. Someone a world away whose life experience is completely different from yours, but who shares your abiding love of fantasy. Someone whose perspective has been shaped by events you haven’t experienced, but who wants the same things you do. To be happy. For the people they love to be safe and filled with joy. For their time spent spinning around the sun to mean something.
Maybe, if only in the smallest way, that shared laughter will remind you not of your differences, but of the many things that bind you together as human beings. Maybe you’ll exhale for a moment. Maybe you’ll remember that the only things we truly have are the people around us and the society we build together.
And maybe the next time you encounter someone you disagree with, whom you perceive as different, you’ll find a little spark of empathy because you just might share a connection or common interest in something—even if that something is the travails of a rock giant with chronic and poorly timed bowel movement issues.
Look, I know that I live, work, and write in a bubble of privilege. I doubt that people with diametrically opposed viewpoints are going to come together over a shared love of what is, scientifically* speaking, the funniest comic fantasy in the esteemed history of the genre. (Note that I’m using the 2020 definition of “scientifically,” which ignores facts in favor of personal opinion, political bias, and apocryphal, meme-driven anecdotes.)
But, hey—I’m going to do what I can. I’m going to treat people with kindness. I’m going to listen, reflect on my own perspectives and perceptions, and work alongside those who have been marginalized to find a way to make everyone’s lives better. And, I’m going to keep writing ridiculous stories that may just remind us all that, when we reach the end of this grand adventure we call life, we’re really all just dragon food.
Unless, of course, our story has a shocking twist…
(Spoiler alert: our story has a shocking twist.)
Be kind to each other.