But why fantasy?
Is it enough to say that people the world over (including myself) have been fascinated with elves and dragons since Tolkien published his master-work and so we can simply continue in his footsteps? Haven’t many authors have done exactly that?
Surely, fantasy is an easy field to write – and do well in?
After all, the scientific understanding for writing, say, hard sci-fi is not necessary. And, because fantasy isn’t exactly high-brow, knowledge of fancy literary theories isn’t necessary, either – in fact it may even be a hindrance.
I’d argue that fantasy is hard to do decently precisely because of the reasons above.
So many people have done it to death, that the reader is jaded by the recycled materials. There is no powerful central scientific concept to bedazzle the reader, nor is there the fig-leaf of fancy
techniques to cover up the fact that a book sucks. An entire house of leaves might not be enough, in fact*.
There is only story, and the writer’s skill in creating a believable world wherein the reader can suspend disbelief in a fantastic reality. My aim when writing is precisely that: to weave a world around the reader, starting with the mundane, and slowly stirring in the spice of magic.
I’m a fan of the (slightly) slow start. Tolkien did it with the hobbits of Hobbiton, and Donaldson did it with the gritty reality that Thomas Covenant faced as a leper … before pulling out the big guns in the form of the Ringwraiths and Lord Foul, amongst others. It is all about the suspension of disbelief and achieving it before moving on with the story.
Oddly enough, many of the best writers of horror get this right. A particularly powerful scene that still stays with me was from Stephen King’s The Shining. One of his characters was busy clipping a hedge, and the hedge animals come to life, stalking him. King crafts the scene wonderfully, animating the creatures in tiny stages, drawing the reader along from where the character thinks the altered hedge-animal is a trick of his mind to where the hedge – lion actually sticks its paw out of its tended patch and the reader experiences a little climax of horror together with the character.
In The Man from the Tower, there is really only one (two at the outside) character that is ‘overpowered’ – and this is only in the context of the book, since there are other fantasy universes that he’d be a wimp in – and that’s the primary antagonist.
Part of the fun of writing it was to take a pretty ordinary hero, stick him in way over his head, and watch as he tries to flounder in deep waters without a deus ex machina courtesy of the author, to save him.
If you’d like to see whether I managed to get it right or not, post a comment on this blog. I’d like to give a copy of The Man from the Tower in .pdf form to the first five posters that have something to say.
Thanks for reading.
* Although, writers like Atwood have shown themselves adept at both utilizing literary techniques AND weaving a good story. I do not pretend to belong to that stratosphere.
About the Book:
"What if there were no boundary between Life and Death? What if the boundary was all there was? What if the mightiest sorcerer alive was a sadistic being of relentless evil, able to exploit such a grey half-world to the fullest?"
That is the question that Tergin, a simple herder in a desolate land, is confronted with. He is the person that unwittingly released the evil being, and he is the one who bears the consequence for his action. Driven by thirst for vengeance and by dreams of his lost love, he takes on the impossible task of righting his mistake, and of curing the deadly curse that he becomes afflicted with. In a long journey beset with dangers, he is forced to make alliances with questionable friends; his endurance and wits are tested to the limit as he faces enemies he never imagined even existed.
About the Author:
My name is Bruno Stella. I’m 37 years old, South African, and have written short stories and longer fiction since I was 13, mostly for my own amusement. I’ve forayed into the realm of fantasy with a book that I have just published on Amazon, called The Man from The Tower.
It can be found here.