West St. Catherine Neighborhood Association

Article RE: Michael Williams from "The Louisville Cardinal"

Sep 07, 2004

FYI -- (excerpted from article)

U of L instructor writes fantasy

Cardinal Staff Writer
Michael Williams has been teaching Humanities and English courses at the University of Louisville off and on for the last 17 years, "or some incredibly long span of time like that," he says. But what many of his students might not know is that aside from doling out class assignments all those years he's also been hard at work crafting some serious literature of his own.
Williams has been authoring fantasy fiction since the mid-1980s. His first three novels were published as part of TSR's "DragonLance: Heroes" and "DragonLance: Meetings" series, and his next three for aTime-Warner trilogy entitled "From Thief to King."
Two others have followed as independent novels: 1996's "Arcady" and its sequel, "Allamanda," the following year. Along the way he has also written a couple of titles under a different name, but is reluctant to identify them.
"You know the rules about pseudonym books," he said. "If I told you, I'd have to kill you."
While recovering from a bad back injury at age 14, Williams became intrigued with J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" series, which instigated his passion for the fantasy genre.
He said, "I knew, with that surprising intuition that you have only a few times in your life, that not only was this something I enjoyed reading, but that I very well might like writing it as a kind of life's work." Reflecting on these beginnings, he added: "Funny that things happened that accidentally."
It's no accident, however, that Williams' work has been acquiring a more substantial audience with each new release.
"I have quite a bit of critical acceptance," Williams said. Locus Magazine, the principal trade magazine for the Science Fiction and Fantasy publication industries, even nominated "Arcady" for its Fantasy Novel of the Year award. "Several of the books have sold well," he added, "so I know I have some readers out there."
Reviews of "Arcady" on websites like Amazon.com affirm his talents, insisting that Williams' stories "should be included in any library of serious fantasy," and even "should
Michael Williams, author of "Arcady"
be the cornerstones of modern fantasy literature." When asked to comment about these assertions, a humble Williams simply replied, "Well, those are reviews."
And yet his stories are anything but modest. In his work, Williams tries to establish elaborate environments, a good plot and strong characters, while seeking what author Nathaniel Hawthorne called the "truth of the heart." Williams feels that these qualities are the mark of any good fantasy literature.
"The genre explores worlds ... in which the laws of physics and nature are bent," Williams said. "It is often a fantasy writer's task to introduce and immerse a reader in the world being created."
In regard to his trade, Williams said that fantasy "renews and refreshes my apprehension of the here and now. It has at its core a sense of estranging reality so that we see things from new angles and from a new light."
Still, Williams fears that the fantasy genre is often stigmatized and overlooked. "Readers should not approach the field with the preconceived notion that all of what they will find is going to be a sort of second-shelf fiction," he said. Instead, "[readers should] bring their best expectations to a fantasy novel, just as they would anything else they read: read in the hope that what you are reading will be good."
Indeed, that is all any good writer could ask for.

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