Welcome to my website, The Shifting Balance. I can tell you more about my fantasy series, but first a little about me.
My name is Melissa Berg, and I am the author of The Shifting Balance Series, which has been my passion for the past ten years. I also work as a freelance illustrator and studied art and design at Madison Area Technical College in Madison, Wisconsin. When I’m not writing or painting or entertaining my son, I am pursuing the art of 3D computer illustration/animation, as a side project and to feed my fascination in the ever-expanding medium used for storytelling. I currently live in Minnesota with my husband, young son, and a crazy Border Collie.
‘Like’ my pages on FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/theshiftingbalance/
Follow me on Twitter: @WhimzicalMusing
To learn more about Prophecy of the Stars, check out ‘The Story’ page HERE.
As for WHY I write Fantasy? Well… There are several reasons, but I will talk about only a few… Read more to find out.
At first, I started writing just to see if I could do it. Part of it was to fulfill a need that other books in the genre at the time just weren’t filling. This was about 10 years ago, so yeah, 2006. Feeling frustrated with the same old same old, I guess it was just time to start writing my own. In working out the ‘what’ to write, I thought about the stories I love; Star Wars, Harry Potter, Battlestar Galactica, Lost, Firefly/Serenity–just to name a few–and what they all have in common. Great characters, people we could relate to, folks we’d love to have as friends—though a few we might like to give a long talking to, but hey, nobody is perfect.
Then I thought about the themes I’ve always been intrigued by. Sacrifice is a big one… There has always been something interesting to me about sacrifice, not the idea of it necessarily, but the mind set someone would need to go through with it. Perhaps it was my long Christian school upbringing, but the story of Jesus is intriguing in this way, and not often talked about. He knew he would have to sacrifice himself. What would that have been like? I wanted to analyze the human spirit in this way, and try to answer that question. I also loved the Joseph Campbell model of the Hero’s Journey, and the symbolic nature related to it. Yet I wanted to bring this idea into the more current atmosphere of today’s readers.
Next, I came up with my characters and I decided that my main character had to be female, mostly because at the time, there weren’t very many—thank you The Hunger Games for finally making a female hero real! Mahren is the type of woman who has a certain innocence. She can fight when she has to, but she’s not all brawn, boobs, swag, and ego. She is relatable, not just to other women, but to the regular anyone. She feels awkward, she feels out of place, she doesn’t think of herself as beautiful, yet she has a feminine quality that often gets lost in the woman/warrior cliché we normally see. She takes responsibility for herself, and won’t expect others to fight her battles. She won’t ask for help either; she would rather do it all herself, than risk anyone she cares about. After I created Mahren, the other characters all fell into place around her, and I just started to write and see what happens.
The other reason I started writing is I believe stories should make us think about not just the world we live in, but the possibilities of ‘what if’. I know the ability to dream is not entirely exclusive to the human consciousness, but awareness is, and it is through the sharing of our dreams, creating stories, that is the unbreakable bond of our human existence. I once had someone tell me they thought Fantasy was ridiculous; fairy tales and magic—children’s stuff and make-believe. So untrue. My immediate reaction to that was to walk away—if they don’t get it, they never will—yet internally I was frustrated. To me, it is through the genre of fantasy where the key to the human spirit can be found. Not just the fun of creating something out of nothing, because in a way, that’s not true either, but the idea that these grand and epic tales of heroism amidst a seemingly unbeatable and awesome darkness, where the smallest of us has the chance to prevail, can easily teach us about our own trials and heartaches that drive us, that push us forward—it is truth, wrapped up in a fantasy.
I like to say this:
“The hero is who we all want to emulate, and the villain is the monster we must defeat, but the anti-hero is all of us, floundering in the dark, searching for the way of right… sometimes we may even find it.” ~ Melissa Berg
I have dealt with some of my own trials and struggles–the amazing birth of my son–to name one. I’ve seen life struggle and survive. but I have also seen life struggle and lose. She was a new friend, a new neighbor, and she was an amazing mother with boundless energy. I only knew Bethany for three years, but she was the kind of sweet and caring soul that would offer to help in a moment’s notice despite her own personal problems; a rare thing these days. Just over three years ago she came to me with the news that she was pregnant. She wanted many children, but they didn’t think she would conceive again, so this was great and awesome news for her and her husband, and their almost five-year-old son. But it was only a few weeks later when she told me that she had lost it, and they were going to test her for breast cancer. The tests were positive, and it was already spreading. They went after it aggressively, even with brand new treatments that were still experimental. Through it all she smiled and helped wherever she could. She shared her experience with others who needed hope and encouragement, she volunteered to sandbag and help those who were suffering from local flooding in our area, even while she was on chemo. She raised her son, celebrated his fifth birthday two years ago, and prayed and thanked God for every milestone she got to witness. As hard as she fought, Bethany lost her battle last February. She was only 41-years-old. I had turned 41 that same year. Others lose too; some even win. They fight, they have battle scars, and they bear the traumas both physically and mentally, yet they continue on as best they can. They heal. Fantasy stories can be laid out, like tracing paper, over our own lives. The battles and the characters are the same; the human spirit, the soul that smiles on in the face of danger, is us looking back at ourselves.
So why do I write? I write because there are many who need that hope and encouragement that they will survive; that their fight is not a trivial, hopeless thing. People like Bethany matter, and they shouldn’t be forgotten. It is stories of the human spirit, whether fictional or not, that remind us to always stand up and face whatever comes because we ALL matter.