Last May I happened to Google search “Urban Noir Fantasy Books” because I am writing a novel that roughly falls in the oxymoronic genre called “fantasy realism.”
I’ve been told that wise authors read other novels in that genre if only to see what had been done before/already. So from 2018-2029, I read the Eddie LaCrosse series, by Wisconsin author Alex Bledsoe which features an anti-hero sellsword (mercenary for the non fantasy fans) who acts as a Renaissance/Medieval era P.I and solves cases.
I also read Bledsoe’s Tufa series which mixes in fairies, Appalachian culture, waring families, and neat references and homages to 1940s-1970s rockabilly, bluegrass, and country music. (It’s not my preferred musical choice but I enjoyed how he used music throughout the stories’ plots).
Well, these novels and last May’s Google search brought me to the behemoth of all realism fantasy novels: The Dresden Files.
The Dresden Files is about a private investigator named Harry Dresden who works in Chicago and happens to be a wizard.
He’s less of a Harry Potter boy wizard and more like if Humphrey Bogart’s character Sam Spade was a massive nerd who could manipulate the natural elements and energies in the physical world to blow things up, blast things with energy, ect.
In other words, Harry Dresden is way cooler than Harry Potter. There. I said it. Fight me fellow nerds! (And this is coming from someone who dressed up as Harry Potter for Haloween and who made 3 different Pottermore accounts because I was unhappy with the house that the Sorting Hat placed me in).
I knew after the first chapter in Storm Front that I was in this world for the long haul. So last May, I decided to tie my enjoyment of this series to physical activity. I could only “read” (listen on Audible) the story if I was physically moving my body. This meant I couldn’t listen to the book while I was driving or sitting around on the couch. I had to move. Little did I know that this book series would be the key to my biking success last summer.
There were several times when I pushed myself to bike longer and farther because I was in a good part in the book and I didn’t want to stop reading. Hell, that’s how I biked my first 20 miles in one go. It also made me want to bike more — even if the ride was only five or six miles — because I could get in 20 to 30 more minutes of reading.
Well, I finished the last published book on 30 mile ride on Friday, and I was a little worried because I’d either have to find something else to listen to while I ride, or I’d have to start the whole series over again in preparation for the newest book which is coming out in July. (Let’s be honest…I’d probably do the latter). Thankfully, I discovered there are two anthology short story collections which add backstory, one-off adventures, and interesting links to the main storyline. I finished one of them and I started the other on my run today.
And today, I didn’t want to run. There was no reason behind it aside for laziness. I knew I was going to run because I’m still dedicated to my training and my goals, but I wasn’t going to like it.
So I made a new rule for myself. I could only listen to the book if I was actually running. If I stopped to walk, I’d press the button on my earphones to pause the book, and I’d walk in silence. No music, no Harry Dresden, no excellent narration by Jim Marsters, just silence.
How did that work out? Well, I bumped 1 minute off my last 5k time.
I walked less, I pushed myself harder, and I ignored the annoying blister that was forming because I wanted to hear more about Harry Dresden’s story.
But hey, sometimes you have to play games with yourself and find unique ways to accomplish your goals. And if it wasn’t for authors like Jim Butcher or even Alex Bledsoe, I wouldn’t have pushed myself to run down the Ice Age trail and through a lush forest paradise that parallels the great St. Croix river.
Tomorrow’s plan: 1 hour hike or 2 hour bike ride (depending on how my blisters feel).