I’ve read fantasy for a long time. I’ve been known to take a break and read other genres but I always seem to come back to fantasy. I guess it’s the kid in me and the love of a good yarn that keeps me reading these stories. But there are other reasons the genre interests me as both a reader and a writer.
I got into a conversation after completing my interview the other night about speculative fiction and why it’s useful for story-telling. One of the main points noted about fantasy and science fiction is how flexible these genres can be. A writer can explore all kinds of topics through setting and situation. This is done in science fiction by using technology and in fantasy through magic systems.
As a reader, fantasy attracts me for several other reasons, one of which revolves around courage. So often, fantasy characters – main, secondary or otherwise – are faced with dire circumstances regardless of their magical assets (spells, weapons, etc.). It’s at this point that courage becomes the factor in the story with outcomes that can be either victorious or disastrous. I like to see how a character of any kind might react courageously in the face of these extreme situations.
For instance, in The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf refuses to budge in the presence of both the balrog and the Lord of the Nazgul. Likewise, Eowyn stands up to the Lord of the Nazgul just to defend King Theoden. That’s gripping as well as courageous.
Additionally, I like to read about characters who take on leadership and just do what’s necessary. In such stories, a character might make decisions because they have nothing to lose and nobody else is willing to make that call.
And then there’s the pure adventure of a fantasy tale. One recent book that captured adventure well was Michael J. Sullivan’s The Emerald Storm which is a tale that largely takes place on a sea voyage. It captures elements of Treasure Island in a fantasy setting. And who doesn’t like adventure on the high seas.
So for me, fantasy is a way of examining people in extraordinary circumstances all with in fantasy settings that add to the wonder and excitement of the story. Sure, I could watch Saving Private Ryan to see the defense of the bridge and the courage it takes – and love it. But put that in a fantasy setting and you can come up with some really good stories. I could read or view ocean voyages like Moby Dick or Master and Commander but add magic and some monstrous critters and it gets doubly interesting.
Why do you read fantasy? What book or movie would you like to see converted into a gripping fantasy novel?
Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section.
The Bow of Hart Saga Release Notes:
The Bow of Destiny is now out on Audible (available in Whispersync for those who like reading and listening) and available on Amazon (and yes, it’s free in Kindle Unlimited).
An Arrow Against the Wind is due out on audio 10/22 and is also free on Kindle Unlimited.
The White Arrow will be released on audio on 11/27 but it’s currently available on Amazon and free on Kindle Unlimited
I thought it would be interesting to share some commentary about the beginning of The Bow of Destiny now that the book has been out for a while, sold well and the next book should be released in just a few months. The Bow of Destiny has a curious beginning for many people that’s at once perplexing, confusing and intriguing. This effect is done on purpose and I’ll share a bit about it now.
The Bow of Destiny is written using the technique of deep point-of-view where readers hopefully become deeply engaged with the perceptions of the point-of-view character. There are a few other aspects mixed into this, one being that there are little, to no, dialogue tags in the book – all the dialogue is contextual. Secondly, with the deep point-of-view, internalization is signaled – or tagged – with physical actions by the character. As such, the internal thoughts, mood and emotions of the character are not italicized since these are deep enough into the chracter-reader engagement to not be set apart in such a way. Lastly, when italics are used it is for a specific, ongoing experience for the POV character. In such cases, hallucinations, dreams, memories, visions and other such experiences of the character are italicized as a special indicator that something different is happening for the character. I also used a present tense instead of past tense to cue the reader that this is a present experience for the character. It’s important to note that the tense only has changed and not the character POV.
Athson has been afflicted with what he terms “fits” since he was orphaned. Something in his surrounding environment can set off these episodes where he re-lives his past – sometimes overlaid with his present. It’s actually a PTSD-like reaction to the violence of his past and can leave him rather confused
On top of this, Athson also sees other things like Spark, an imaginary mountain hound that’s been at his side since the incidents described in the first chapter. Athson takes an elven concoction called Soul’s Ease to prevent him from having “fits” or seeing Spark.
The opening scene gets confusing for Athson because he’s forgotten his Soul’s Ease. The instances of italics in this case are when Athson sees his traumatic past – in present tense. It emphasizes that something different is ongoing within Athson’s awareness. If you – as the reader – are confused, then it’s all good because Athson is confused and you are really deeply into his experiences. However, it’s important to remember that the character point-of-view does not change – only the tense has changed to emphasize Athson’s (in this case) experience has changed.
Athson knows that these “fits” give him a hard time differentiating what he sees for days so he assumes things like Spark are not real. However, these seem very real to him and he often gets caught up in them anyway – such as interacting with Spark.
So this is another layer to Athson’s point-of-view in the opening scene. As you can see, there are a lot of different aspects to this scene that might get overlooked. However, if you read it again you’ll see the clues along the way. By the way, there are a number of other subtleties throughout the book that you might find interesting on re-reading.
Next week, I’ll dig a little deeper into this opening scene and attempt to offer a bit more about Athson’s state of mind. I found this scene difficult, tricky and daring all at once so there are a lot of layers to what’s going in with Athson that set the stage for the whole story. Thanks for reading today. Please leave comments below and check back next week for another post about this topic.
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P. H. Solomon lives in the greater Birmingham, AL area where he strongly dislikes yard work and sanding the deck rail. However, he performs these duties to maintain a nice home for his loved ones as well as the family’s German Shepherds. In his spare time, P. H. rides herd as a Computer Whisperer on large computers called servers (harmonica not required). Additionally, he enjoys reading, running, most sports and fantasy football. Having a degree in Anthropology, he also has a wide array of more “serious” interests in addition to working regularly to hone his writing. The Bow of Destiny is his first novel-length title with more soon to come.