So… why write fantasy? This was actually a big question for me, because I spent a long time screwing around with novels that I wasn’t particularly fond of, trying to write what I thought was “proper” to write… the types of novels that get featured in “Stuffy Drawing Room Discussions Quarterly” because I wanted to feel that I had accomplished something as a writer. The big change for me was when I compared what I was trying to write with what I enjoyed reading. I was writing heart-breaking slices of everyday life and then reading tales of warriors kicking dragons in the arse, and vampires holding bloody knuckle contests with ghosts, and lithe swordswomen tossing naked stableboys from their beds in order to grab up their swords when the troll busts through the wall. I was reading fiction where magic was in the mix… where others worlds were not only just beyond doorways, but there were characters and villains in the books who KNEW where those doorways were waiting, and they had the keys and the magic words to fling them wide open.
So my interests were clearly in different genres. But why was that?
Part of an illustration by Paolo de Francesco
The fact of the matter is… I like it when ANYTHING can happen. In mainstream fiction, slice-of-life and all that… there is a box that contains the writer and the reader, both. That box is a boundary from which we cannot break free. We cannot include ghosts, vampires, fox-women, or any hints of magic. We cannot succumb to the whim of the story. We can’t decide that the reason the barista won’t date the main character ISN’T because she’s had a horrible breakup and is slowly learning to trust again (leading to series of bad lovers because she feels more comfortable when she KNOWS she can’t trust) but rather because there is a dragon’s ghost within her, and love and lust can only be fulfilled if that dragon is defeated by creating a mythical cup of cappuccino that transports the main character to a fantasy world, and also goes quite well with bagels or croissants.
And I like that as a reader, and I like it as a writer. I like going into a story without pre-made choices.
The Colosso dell’Appennino, by Giambologna – outside of Florence, Italy
The whole of the illustration by Paolo de Francesco