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June 2007

A modern-day faerie tale

Like many of us, Warren Rochelle '91 MFA, '97 PhD grew up hearing North Carolina ghost stories. From the beginning he was fascinated by the idea of separate realities. Now he’s creating a new kind of fairy tale.

His second novel, "Harvest of Changelings," published in May by Golden Gryphon Press, explores the intersection of human and fairy worlds. A half human, half fairy child must find a way to get through the gate to Faerie before his powers – or other forces – kill him.

"I like to play with the idea that fairy tales are true," Warren said.

His writing delves into the intersection of different perspectives of reality, our relationship with the divine – the great mystery, and how we love one another.

Science fiction and fantasy prove to be a good fit for those ideas. "You can explore themes and issues of good and evil more directly than in a realistic novel. When a fantasy novel is well-written, it asks hard and interesting questions."

But getting to the place where he could ask those questions took a while. Warren originally worked as a librarian in the Triangle. After 11 years in that profession, he had to make a hard decision. Ever since he had read "The Chronicles of Narnia" in third grade, he knew what he wanted to do.

He quit his job and enrolled in UNCG's MFA program. With Fred Chappell as his thesis advisor, he wrote his first science-fiction novel, "The Wild Boy." He continued his education with a PhD in English. Now, in addition to writing, he is an associate professor of English at the University of Mary Washington in Fredricksburg, Va.

He plans to work on a sequel to "Harvest of Changelings" during a sabbatical next spring. In the meantime he is enjoying positive reviews, such as this comment from Fred Chappell: "We find a cast of strong and sympathetic characters that I would want to have on my side. Perhaps a new beatitude is discovered: the broken shall mend the earth. Warren Rochelle's new novel is a beautiful, dangerous experience."

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