I love fantasy. It's my first love, it's in my bones. What you love at 13 years old you love for life.
But I went away from it because I felt it had all been done. I still sort of feel that way. The basic perimeters are the basic perimeters, and those who try to stretch the boundaries usually do it in such a way that it is distracting, calling attention to itself.
Oh, this fantasy is different because the main protagonist is a rotter! Oh, the fantasy is different because it has nothing supernatural, or it's hyper-realistic, or it's got women heroes!
Or maybe I should say--the perimeters have been stretched, but the result is new genres; dark fantasy, urban fantasy, steampunk, etc. (And not surprisingly, these are more fun to read.)
Basic fantasy? There is a template, and some do it well and some do it mediocre. But frankly, I got tired of even the well-done fantasy never really surprising me. I went from an insatiable hunger for fantasy through my 20's, to "Oh, another fantasy." Especially since the most successful fantasies seemed to be the most unoriginal, the most dedicated to fan-service.
People kept recommending them. "This one is different, this one is better," but they never seemed to be.
So a few fantasy authors have broken through to me, mostly because of the quality of their writing; George R.R. Martin, Patrick Rothfuss, and Lois McMasters Bujold (some). Most of the others people talk about leave me cold, and I've sampled almost every one of them.
Anyway, this is a long way to my point, which is, I have the urge to write fantasy every time I sit down. It's what lures me.
Fortunately, I always seem to stray. At first, I didn't really consider that I was writing "horror" per se, but it became clear after awhile that writing horror was my way of breaking out of the fantasy tropes. Horror seems to be open to anything. Any story I write can be turned to horror with a few adjustments.
But, well, there isn't a huge market for horror, especially among the Big Five publishers. I was told by a big agent that the smaller publishers I'm already being published by are in fact the people who are doing the state-of-art horror, which is both reassuring and somewhat disappointing. Oh, there are a few breakthrough authors, obviously Stephen King and Dean Koontz among others, but there is an overall resistance to horror.
When I got tired of fantasy years ago, I went to reading mysteries/thrillers, and that's what I've been reading for the last 30 years of so. So turning to trying to write thrillers is a natural move. I've never gotten tired of them. The form seems very elastic as to what is possible.
I was a little leery at first of attempting to write them because of the necessity for realistic procedural details, and that still is a challenge, but the form itself I think I can do.
But every time I sit down to write, my urge to write fantasy is as strong as ever.
I've sort of come up with a solution, at least for me. It runs counter to the trends, so it won't bring me fame or fortune.
The trend in fantasy is to write an unending series of huge books, the more Tolkienish the better. Pretend to be utterly different, but in reality be as close to the model as possible. So as not to offend anyone, I won't mention any names. (Goodkind, Jordan, Hobbes, Fiest, Eddings, Sanderson, Salvetore, ad naseum.)
Instead, I'm writing a series of novellas, set in the same world, but not otherwise connected. They have a light tone, almost fairy-taleish (again, not done much these days.) But boy do I enjoy writing them. They come out naturally, and I have lots of fun with them.
I'm calling them "Tales of the Thirteen Principalities" and I've worked out the theology and the government structure of the world, and each story expands on the magical elements, and I'm excited to explore the world.
I've written two full novellas so far, as well as the beginnings of two others. I see no reason not to keep doing them.
Yesterday, the itch to write finally overcame me (after about a week of not writing--that seems to be my limit) and I started another 13th Tale called "The Wyvern Riders." It filled me with joy. I can't wait to keep writing it.
When I've done about a half dozen of them, I'm going to start putting them out. I'm going to edit them myself, do covers that don't cost a fortune, and charge a mere .99 for them.
Whether anyone will ever read them doesn't matter. I get to scratch my fantasy itch.
4 days ago