“Why?” you ask. “Why would you resort to such an old, well-worn trope?”
Thinly disguised or openly acknowledged, I’ll admit druids have been a mainstay in fantasy literature for decades, probably centuries. Allow me to explain my decision.
One: This is my very first fantasy book. (My first fiction book ever.) I’m not trying to reinvent the genre! I’ll be doing well to measure up to reader expectations at all on this first outing. That being said, I promise you I’m not just being lazy.
Two: The characters called for a druid connection. I’m serious! I determined my protagonist’s characteristics, his background and family. There was a bright line directly to an area of the world where druids once lived large and held sway in the affairs of men and gods. You couldn’t miss it!
Three: The setting argued for a druid presence. The story took my protagonist to a rural, forested area. Trees! Trees and druids? You know they go together. And that rural, forested area had also once been haven to … you guessed it! This was not by design. The location was plucked from my own wanderings and, perhaps, my deep desire to travel beyond the confines of my local area again some day.
Four: When I began looking into the druids, really trying to dig down into what’s known about them and their practices, I ran into a serious paucity of information. Evidently, druids didn’t write any of their rites, potions or spells down. The lack of authoritative sources and information provides a certain amount of flexibility which, for a neophyte, is a positive thing. Don’t worry! I’m not reinventing druids wholesale. There is enough info available to provide a solid framework for me to work with.
Five: Druids are familiar to my potential audience. Familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt. Sometimes it calls up warm, fuzzy feelings – like finding a box of your favorite cookies at the grocery store. As a reader, I find myself drawn to familiar themes often. Not that I don’t enjoy something new and different from time to time. But, if I see a box of my favorite cookies at the store and they’re on sale … I’m buying them!
I didn’t start out to write a druid fantasy. In fact, I’m not sure even now that I’d label it as such. The focus of the book is not the trappings of magical mayhem brought about by druid influence. The story is about a guy who has some things to learn and gets his lessons in an unusual and unexpected way. Well, he doesn’t expect it anyway.