The Art of The Fantasy Novel at the Dixon 

Fantasy fiction is vastly popular. The last season of HBO's Game of Thrones is probably the year's most anticipated television event. Still, Jenny M. Duggan Jackson thinks genre fiction gets a short shrift.

"You don't see workshops on fantasy," she says. "I was like, 'Why is that?'"

When she was still an MFA candidate at the University of Memphis, Jackson foucued on creative nonfiction. "I can write about the things I know," she says. Somewhere along the way she discovered that fantasy fiction was something she knew quite a bit about.

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Jackson's Art of the Fantasy Novel workshop is a trilogy divided — like most great fantasy epics — into three distinct parts. The first focuses on classical mythology and its influence on modern fantasy. "[Earthsea author] Ursula K. Le Guin has written several very informative books for writers, and I'm going to use a couple of her writing prompts to help students get started," Jackson says. "We also have an interesting exhibit here at the Dixon. Annabelle Meacham is a local artist and Neo-surrealist painter. Her imaginative and whimsical art will be another writing prompt."

The second session is devoted to the nuts and bolts of plotting and character development, and at the final week's meeting, participants can read their work and receive feedback.

"With fantasy you can talk about important issues that matter to people in life without being too stilted or heavy-handed," Jackson says. "You can talk about gender or you can talk about race or you can talk about all these different things but slightly removed from the everyday."

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