I stumbled across Holly Lisle‘s book, Fire in the Mist by complete accident—standing in a Half Price Bookstore looking for fantasy novels involving magic. At the time, I didn’t know that this was the first novel Holly Lisle tried to get published, or that it was picked up and published by the first publisher she sent it to (Baen), which is very unusual for a brand new author. The story in Fire in the Mist is just as unusual.
The main character, Faia, starts off as a simple shepherd. Tragedy strikes, and she finds herself a magic user with a gift she can’t control. She ends up at a university of study where she’s corrupted by the spirit of a murderer. It’s very much a struggle of good vs. evil, but with unusual twists and character growth. I won’t spoil the ending. 😉
I loved the strong character in this book (and the sequels). In the 70’s and 80’s, strong female characters were still fairly hit or miss in science fiction & fantasy. Holly Lisle did a great job with her world building & characters, and after reading this book, I bought each book she published from then on.
In recent years, Holly Lisle has shifted her focus to helping other writers write good stories through her writing classes. I was fortunate enough to take part in her very first offering of the How to Revise Your Novel course way back. Since then, I’ve enjoyed being part of her other classes, and each time, I’ve learned so much about writing in general. She also is the one that showed me Scrivener, which has saved my writing life!
While Fire in the Mist shows its age a bit now and at times can be a bit juvenile, Holly Lisle’s other works show her growth as a writer, and all of them are worth the read—especially the Diplomacy of Wolves & Memory of Fire series. (Her most recent story, Enter The Death Circus, is a seriously twisted piece of awesome writing.)
Want to read other Flashback Fridays? Click here to see the list in this series.