About the Author, Artist, and Webmaster
Dawn Walls Thumma writes Tolkien-based fiction and non-fiction under the alias Dawn Felagund. Dawn Felagund writes and publishes original speculative fiction under the alias Dawn Walls Thumma. If you're confused about what to call me, just plain "Dawn" works fine.
I have been writing, drawing, and creating fictional worlds since I could first hold a pencil. It is only recently that I have finally given in and allowed myself to realize that these inclinations are the core of my identity and something worth devoting my life to.
My training as a writer began in the grand traditions of so-called "literary fiction." I am more than willing to admit that I was a bona fide literary snob who looked down on subpar "genre fic" like fantasy and science fiction as formulaic, superficial indulgences. Of course, I harbored a secret love for all of these things--I was once a girl who loved to fly about her yard on a pegasus and once had all intentions of producing a play with my sister based on The Legend of Zelda NES game--but I was determined that they should not touch my writing. I had Talent and I had Ambition, and there was no place in either of those for "genre fic."
So I set out on a hard road. It was a single story that changed me: one of my stories. As part of a university assignment, I was to write a short story; "genre fic," of course, was forbidden. Inspired by Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, I started a similar story of a futuristic hell where the human population had reached the Earth's carrying capacity and humans deemed unproductive to society were euthanized to maintain that fragile balance. Clearly, then, it was not "genre fic." My professor begged to differ. My workshop time for that story was taken up to scathe The Lord of the Rings and Dune--neither of which I'd read, of course, being a literary author of both Talent and Ambition--and I was soundly told off by my professor. We argued about it through email. She finally caved when I started breaking out the definitions given in the glossary of The Writer's Market, though I suspect she was not happy to do so. And I started thinking.
Clearly, I hadn't written "genre fic." I knew that, even if no one else did. (Even though one shy classmate of mine approached me after the disastrous workshop to let me know that she'd liked the story and found it rather alike to--shocker--Atwood's Handmaid's Tale. Head, meet Desk.) This got me thinking about the blurred lines between different genres ... and yes, literary is as much a genre as any other, with its own conventions and--dare I say--formulae. Around the same time, Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy was being released in theaters. I thought that they looked pretty cool, but being a literary author of Talent and Ambition, I couldn't say this out loud. Luckily, my husband intervened and insisted on seeing them. It was love at first sight.
Shortly before Return of the King was released--and shortly after I'd graduated from university, fairly certain that I never wanted to write again--I finally found the time to read the books. I fell in love all over again. I started doing Internet searches for more information on The Lord of the Rings and discovered a vibrant online community: fandom. And I picked up The Silmarillion.
I hated The Silmarillion the first time I read it. I got halfway through and saw the name Fëanor and thought he sounded important so looked him up in the index and ... oh. Yes, he was rather important. Refusing to be defeated by a book about Elves, of all things, I read it again. I've lost track of how many times I've read it since.
With discovering Tolkien, my imagination took off. I suddenly realized that my creativity didn't have to be confined to the world and life that I knew, as literary fiction would have it, but was free to wander where it pleased and come back with souvenirs in the form of stories. In secret, I started writing stories about The Silmarillion before I even knew of fan fiction. It took courage to begin sharing them, but I eventually mustered it and did just that, and people seemed to like them, so I wrote more. And more and more. And, soon, I was writing original fiction again too, though very different from what I used to write. And that brings me to where I am now.
These days, I write speculative fiction of all sorts. Less is based on Tolkien than once was, but this is still a pleasure of mine and one that I hope never to give up. I also do a lot of work on studying the works of J.R.R. Tolkien and their myriad interpretations.
In addition to being a writer, I am an artist. I enjoy drawing and painting. Most of my work focuses on painting gaming miniatures and medieval illumination--quite a mix, I know, but I like what I like. When I'm not writing or painting, then I might be found playing my recorder, managing one of several websites that I have designed and run (including this one!), reading, studying, freestyle rollerskating, gaming, hiking, playing with my two Golden Retrievers, ballroom dancing, watching movies with my husband, confabulating with my
imaginary friends muses, or dressing up for merriment and mayhem at SCA events and Renaissance Faires.
Now that you know all about me, who are you? I'd love to learn more about my fellow explorers of the farthest realms of imagination, so if you're so inclined, please drop me a line to introduce yourself! While you're here, feel free to check out my writing in the Library, my artwork in the Gallery, or see my latest research in my weble, The Heretic Loremaster. I hope that you enjoy your stay, and may the muses smile upon you!
Dawn "Felagund" Walls Thumma
Many, many thanks to Tristan Alexander for my portrait!