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Feb 21

Flashback Friday: Depression & a Dragon

Dragon Prince by Melanie Rawn was probably the longest fantasy novel I read in middle school. Sitting at 576 pages, it’s truly an epic fantasy novel. Length of novels didn’t intimidate me. As a middle schooler, I devoured books like popcorn or rocky-road ice cream. But cracking open a novel with such lengthy descriptions and dozens of characters, was a bit intimidating for middle school me.

Dragon Prince

Dragon Prince

In Dragon Prince, the main character is a Sunrunner, who weaves light to speak telepathically over long distances. They can do other things over sun light and moon light, such as wage battles, but in the first book, it is mostly used for communication. While the first novel carries a romantic subplot, the book’s main plot reads like a historical fiction novel melded with epic fantasy—meaning lots of war between different peoples and descriptive world building. When I first read it, I never thought I’d be interested in novels that spend such a large percentage of their pages on what my husband likes to dub as scenery porn. In other words, there is paragraph after paragraph dedicated to description of the world, the scene, the people, etc. But Melanie Rawn does an amazing job of making her world feel real—rich enough to have its own histories and cultures–and her characters stay with you page after page.

Needless to say, reading this novel and the five that come after it, introduced me to a whole different genre: epic fantasy. But it also introduced me to depression.

Several years after the publishing of this series, the author, Melanie Rawn, fell into a deep depression. So much so that she took a long hiatus from writing—a full decade in fact. Many of her former fans wrote her off, saying she would never write again, and for a while, she believed it, too.
While she has not returned to the land of the Sunrunners, she has returned to writing and speaks openly about her depression.

Reading about her experiences with depression and writing really helped me in high school and in college when I battled my own issues with depression. There were days that I felt like writing was a futile effort. Who was I to think I’d ever amount to half the writer Melanie Rawn is? And if she battled depression and barely survived, who was I to think I could battle it and win?

It’s been twenty-five years since I first cracked open the pages to Dragon Prince, but in that time, I have watched many of my friends and family battle their own mental illnesses. I’ve battled depression and panic/anxiety disorder myself, and with the support of others, I’ve come out on top.

Writing is never worthless. Writing gives me great happiness, as I’m sure it does Melanie Rawn.

In twenty-five years, I’ve grown up in a world of friends, both literary and real. And if I ever begin to doubt myself as a writer, or just feel like the world isn’t what it should be, I pick up Dragon Prince and remind myself that depression doesn’t own me. It’s a part of me, but I am so much more than mental illness.

I’m a reader.
And a writer.

Raven

 

 

 

Want to read other Flashback Fridays? Click here to see the list in this series.

About the author

Raven Oak

Bestselling science fiction & fantasy author Raven Oak is best known for Amaskan’s Blood, Class-M Exile, and the collection Joy to the Worlds: Mysterious Speculative Fiction for the Holidays.

She spent most of her K-12 education doodling stories and 500 page monstrosities that are forever locked away in a filing cabinet. When she's not writing, she's getting her game on, enjoying cartography, or staring at the ocean.

She lives in Seattle, WA with her husband, and their three kitties who enjoy lounging across the keyboard when writing deadlines approach.

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  1. […] Bridge to Terabithia as a Flashback Friday because of the brutal lessons it taught me so long ago. Melanie Rawn further developed my understanding of this lesson a year later–both in how to and how not to […]

  2. […] rape or incest, it was on the sidelines. Something referenced but left mostly unsaid. Melanie Rawn (Sunrunner’s Fire) certainly covered rape and miscarriage, but again–it was something hinted at rather than […]

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