This is the question I posed to a handful of authors of fantasy fiction. Some of their answers amused me; others offered thought-provoking insight. Some answers were written with a lyrical, literary beauty. But, each answer came straight from the heart.
So, without further rambling reflection from me, I offer you a selection of some of the most talented new fantasy writers, both published and unpublished. Take notes, visit websites, read samples of their work… because these amazing authors are destined for greatness!
I write fantasy because it’s a great escape. I’ve been writing as long as I can remember and most of my writing has been fantastic to some degree or other. For a long time, it was a way for me to have an ounce of control over something. Now, I find it loads of fun because anything is possible. I love that about fantasy.
Why do I write fantasy?
It’s a question I’ve often asked myself and been asked by others. The Answer? Simple. For me speculative fiction offers a freedom of expression not found in other genres. As long as you can persuade the reader to suspend their disbelief, anything goes: dragons abound, wizards cast spells, castles rise and fall. Having said that I don’t really write heroic or high fantasy anymore, it doesn’t entrance me, writing wise, as it once did. For many years I tried to combine urban fantasy with traditional fantasy and all I ended up with was a mish-mash of the two. I was also determined to write for adults, but my stories came across for much younger readers; so I compromised and now write YA.
What led me down the path of urban fantasy? Well, I reside in Liverpool, a city with many fascinating aspects, both beautiful and ugly. I’ve always been drawn to urban decay; it has its own unique kind of enthrallment. Stories peeked out at me from abandoned train stations, deserted warehouses and, decaying boats stranded in the pungent mud of the river Mersey, copious material from which to create worlds and characters. In a nutshell that’s why I write fantasy.
Do you ever look around and want to see more in your world? Books like Spiderwick where you look at the real world but see something deeper. Instead of looking for a government conspiracy I like seeing little creatures that live among us. And it’s always fun to do the research on the gods, goddess and demons of old.
They were our protectors and it’s always nice to know that someone is looking out for us and that we as humans have powers that just need to be tapped.
Simple, then I don’t look so odd for answering the voices in my head! I mean, really, what non-fiction writer can say they can create a story about the conversations going on inside their head? I’m not aware of any, and if they said they did then I’d probably be very worried…
Now us fiction/fantasy writers we’re a unique group. It’s not everyone that can create something out of nothing. Yup, that’s right, I create stories from my imagination and I can have my characters say and do anything. They can be a strong female heroine that has powers, perhaps she can wield lightning bolts or maybe she can read minds… Oh boy, I get goose bumps just thinking about it! I can have my characters in the real world or they can live in a world I randomly create.
I can look at something as simple as a blue dum dum sucker and a pencil and create a unique story about a young boy coming from a blue planet that figures out he has special powers… he levitates his pencil from his desk while staying after school for detention. A plot can be developed as he thinks there are people chasing him, wanting him for his powers. His parents suddenly disappear… yup, could write a whole story off of something as simple as a sucker and a pencil.
I mean really… who’d want to write anything else but fantasy???
I’ve been writing fantasy fiction for about twelve years. It has always been my favorite, the magic, mystery and adventure of it all. To write a story, that is completely based on the ‘what if it was possible’ concept, but the catch is to ‘make it believable’. Fantasy is a wonderful genre, allowing your imagination to run wild!
My website, “The DragonLady” Gretchen Steen, http://www.gretchensteen.com/, shows my vast writings, including poetry and flash fiction. My blog, “The DragonLady’s Fantasies”, http://www.gretchensteen.blogspot.com/, is currently a place for my ‘rantings’, including just about everything.
Will Macmillan Jones
When Tricia asked me, “Why do you write fantasy?” I was bemused. No, really. I’ve always considered myself a true-life writer, not a fantasist. I mean, we all know what fantasy writers must be like, don’t we? Just look at the usual cover art on the books, for heaven’s sake. All those Jordan-esque girls whose clothes would struggle to cover a couple of postage stamps: or cloaked and hooded menacing chaps whose very appearance on a street, let alone the assorted weaponry normally slung about their bodies, would generate the attendance of every Police Armed Response Unit for fifty miles. And what about the strange creatures, for whom a SWAT team would be appropriate, in every way? I’ve none of those.
No, I’m not a fantasy writer. All right, I’ll hold my hands up to a witch, and a few dark wizards. But if you put my middle-aged witch in a bathing suit, you’d better make sure that you’ve insured the camera lens. (Please, Tricia, delete that if there’s any chance of her reading this. Oh dear.) And the wizards are usually accountants. Oh, and one is a taxi driver. See? Not a fantasist writer, me. Why my books weren’t snatched up by Harper True Life I’ve no idea.
The rest of the characters might be a little odd. But, and trust me on this, they could walk down the main street of any major city in the UK without attracting more than the odd glance. And, at least as far as I’m concerned, they are all pretty real. Look, they even share their hangovers with me when they’ve been out drinking. Without inviting me along, I might add. And that’s no fantasy, I can assure you.
Fantasy authors, and I know a few, sit down – usually in an evening, and often under the influence of various substances of dubious legality (allegedly) and pour the fruits of their deranged imaginations out into the ether. Me? I get to sit soberly at my desk whilst the guys crowd around, jostling each other and drinking my coffee for me whilst telling me what one of the others has done during the day that was either funny, upsetting, or downright embarrassing, and expecting me to write it all down before they will get lost and let me have a well deserved kip. Write fantasy? I should be so lucky!
So, why do I write fantasy?
Well, I’ve always written stories since I was a young child and could first grapple with a pencil. But for me fantasy was always my first love. I grew up living very much inside my own imagination and dreaming of soaring dragons and witches and wizards, all living hidden lives within our modern world. Oh, how I wanted them to be real. I’d spend hours climbing trees as a kid, hoping to find some hidden doorway under the bark! Weird kid? Yes, probably. 😀
Then when I was 8, I read ‘The Hobbit’, my first foray into a real fantasy novel beyond the usual but delightful Beatrix Potter type fiction I had read. It had a profound effect on me. My dragon filled dreams took off. I was utterly hooked! My writing turned more and more to fantasy. Also, having a turbulent homelife gave me the perfect excuse to slip more and more into my ever elaborate fantasy worlds. When you cannot claw your way out of your reality, you can grow wings and soar instead!
When you ask me why I write fantasy it is such a profound question. It’s kind of like why do I write?
I mean some people write just to write, like historical fiction or bibliographic or just non fiction, things based off facts and opinions. But to me there is a fire and a passion somewhere deep in there that fuels me, and makes me write. It is like my veins have ink within them, and I just have to write.
I write fantasy so I can dream. So I can know that every little thought my brain ponders won’t be lost in my head like a little tiny piece of egg yolk, freshly broken into a pan. And its hard to fish out.
I write so I won’t lose my sanity, if this makes any sense. I write to feel whole.
Like many other authors, I love to write what I read. One of the old clichés in writing is “write what you know.” There is a certain level of obviousness when a writer tries to write outside their comfort zone (not saying it’s impossible or even a bad idea, just obvious). I have been reading and enjoying fantasy books since I was a kid, so my natural inclination is to just stay in that wheelhouse.
My favorite aspect of writing fantasy is the worldbuilding. I love that I get to make my own rules, establish my own histories, and ultimately control the destiny of far more than a handful of characters. Writing high fantasy (that is, fantasy that takes place in a separate world than our own, not necessarily simply epic fantasy, which I don’t write) allows me the opportunity to take a reader to a completely different environment than they are accustomed to. That’s what I love as a reader myself, so it makes sense that I would want to do this as a writer.
A big thank you to all the authors who participated on this blog! For all my readers, here’s a song that sums it all up.
Watch this video, or better yet–check out my favorite fantasy authors and prepare for your own Great Escape.