As I write new material and field questions about my finished stories, I am constantly reminded by my three editors and readers I break the rules of fantasy. I am not a scofflaw or anything. I don't set out to screw with minds and preconceptions by changing what came before my stories. It just happens naturally for me, although a good question has been brought up again and again. Why don't I follow the well-established rules and customs laid out by the best fantasy authors of our time and before?
It's not that I think I'm a better writer than my forbears or contemporaries. I'm not so arrogant to think that. At root, I have something different to say than those esteemed authors, and a fresh way in which to say it. I pay homage to what came before, but not in a conventional manner. I think of myself as a breath of fresh air in a genre that has been staid for some time.
I suppose my reasoning is simple. One can always read the works of those fantasy, horror, and science fiction writers, so why would any of you want to read my cheap knockoff? To me, the essence of art(and I do think of what I do as an art form) is originality and to be original is to be genuine and novel. I write from my heart what I feel, and it comes out differently than anything else I have ever read.
The first thing that has always occurred to me is why the separations and delineations between fantasy, horror, and science fiction? Why do authors feel the need to keep these genres of fantasy separate and distinct from one another?
In my mind(and granted, I admit to being a far cry from what anyone would call normal) it is unnatural to separate fantasy, horror, and science fiction from one another. Then, there are further separations into high and low fantasy, steampunk, cyberpunk, erotica, and the list goes on and on. They are all types of fantasy of one sort or another. I find it simpler to treat fantasy as one thing that fires the imagination and causes the creative juices to flow.
The Cosmos I have created is infinite with endless and eternal possibilities. To get that concept to come alive on the page requires a different mentality and perspective. Cultures, separated by millions of light years, have developed unique magics, technologies, powers, and concepts. What I have devised does not fall neatly into any one of the established genres of fantasy.
With that all said, one might suppose I have formulated a valid explanation for the reason behind straying from the established rules and genres. From childhood, I have always seen the possibilities of fantasy in a broader way than just about everyone else. For most of my life, I have felt closer to the mad scientist than a lover of fantasy. Now, as an adult, this idea of mine about the nature of fantasy has been tempered into the fabric of my mind. There's no going back on it now, even if I had any inclination to do so, which I don't.
A story is the result of a string of choices made by the author while writing the tale. One different decision and the story wanders in another direction. I could have chosen to be normal and fall in line. Wouldn't that have made it easier on me? Wouldn't that have made it easier for readers to relate to my work?
Those are good questions, and yes, it would have made it easier on me to be able to tell readers my stories are similar to those of J.R.R. Tolkien, Stephen King, or Philip K. Dick. Instead, there are no stories or authors to which I can compare my tales. I accept getting people to read my work is going to be an uphill battle. It is the nature of the beast.
All I can say is, if people give my stories a chance, they will come to love them. Anyone who likes fantasy in any way, shape, or form, and has read any of my stories has said nothing but good things about their reading experience. I have been told countless times my stories are cut from a different mold, but have an odd relatability.
I believe people relate so well to my work because I respect fantasy with all my heart. I don't treat fantasy as pulp fiction that doesn't matter. My work is closer to literature with all that entails, and original, rather than derivative. I think of my work as an art form, and with that in mind, I carefully craft each story.
If more authors disconnected themselves from the arbitrary rules and separation of fantasy genres formulated long ago, we wouldn't keep being subjected to rehashes of The Lord of The Rings quest and themes. Whether fantasy readers would recognize and vocalize it or not, they would be much happier. Who wouldn't want to revel in boundless creative energy?
That's my theory, and I'm sticking with it. I don't know if I've fully answered everything, but I believe I have shed some light on the subject. With that said, in the name of creativity, all authors go out and break the established rules, and all readers look for the work of those rule breakers! Demand excellence, and you will create and receive it. This seems like a good point to stop for the moment. Until next time, embrace the shade of a big tree with a good book. Hopefully, it is one of mine!
Another night of blissful writing and rapid contemplation on my porch under the summer stars. Hard to believe fall is just around the corner. Where did the summer go? I must be getting old because time seems to be passing quicker and quicker.
The last two weeks have been busy as hell for me in Twitterland. I had all I could do to keep up with responses to inquiries generated from my last couple of Tweets and my interview Jacky Dahlhaus posted on her website at jackydahlhaus.com. If you're curious and want to know more about me, you should check out that interview.
On another note, my 31st wedding anniversary is fast approaching. Hell, Labor Day is only a week away, and my anniversary is in the middle of the next week. My wife has the whole week off from work.
I like to surprise my wife with big gestures every so often on her birthday, Mother's Day, our anniversary, or Christmas. I don't go big on every occasion. That's all part of the surprise. I do like to keep her guessing.
It has been a while since I've done one of these gestures. The last one involved a birthday trip to Providence for a weekend of romance, art museums, and good, vegan food. The vegan restaurants in Providence are numerous and simply superb. I highly recommend Providence to anyone looking for a good time. My wife and I had a blast!
My buds and I are coming down to my house for another gaming fest the weekend after Labor Day. My friends come to my house five times a year to game our asses off. The role playing festivities start on Friday night around 6 or 7, and end on Sunday around 5 or 6. If I did something special for my wife on that weekend, that would take her for a loop. I could even incorporate some kind of dinner game or puzzle into the mix.
Hopefully, my wife doesn't read this entry. She doesn't usually, but it would be just my luck this would be the one exception. My wife is such a peach, she would probably not let on she knew about the surprise party and pretend to be shocked and awed. She is that kind of lady. The more I think about this plan, the more I like it.
I usually don't let anything get in the way of gaming. Some things are just that sacred, but my wife is the tops for me. Yes, even above gaming and for me, that's saying a lot!
There's this Mexican restaurant in town that has live jazz music on Saturday nights. The place also has vegan nachos to die for. I'm thinking of surprising my wife with a night on the town with my buds, daughter, and son-in-law. To add to the surprise, I could have my daughter take my wife shopping for the day, which will end with a trip to this restaurant. The surprise on her face when she sees my buds, son-in-law, and myself waiting at a table for her and my daughter will be priceless! Margaritas, jazz, and the best vegan fare in town; who could ask for anything more? Yea, I think that's just the ticket! I'll do that if nothing better springs to mind. Big gestures need to be grand in scale. My wife deserves that much from me.
The Porch has a way of calming the mind so ideas properly percolate. Many hours have been spent there, thinking, dreaming, and scheming. My friends have always said there is something mystical about my porch you can't quite put your finger on. I wholeheartedly agree!
I see the first light of Dawn rearing her bitchy head. Time to go for now. Until next time, enjoy the last throes of the shadows of summer!
A couple of days ago, the great vampire chronicler, Jacky Dahlhaus, cornered me for an interview. She posted it yesterday on her website, jackydahlhaus.com, for her Meet The Author series. Jacky does weekly interviews of indie authors. She uses her vamp ways to get the skinny on her subjects. I promise she was gentle, and her fangs didn't hurt a bit. Many thanks go out to Jacky for wanting to tell the world about me and my creative process.
This past week has been crazy-busy. Not only did I have the interview with The Vamp, I had lots of inquiries from fans to answer, and completed more formatting of my newest creation, The Shade's Tale, Parts I - III. The story is a monster and is almost ready to be uploaded to Amazon. In addition, somehow I fit some time in for writing new material. Like I said, I've had one helluva busy week.
Earlier this week I added another passing thought to my Thought Train. It is a post about Doom, a concept important to my stories. If you haven't already done so, you might want to take a gander at it.
On another note, I've done much work on the role-playing game I've been running for some twenty-seven years now. My, how time flies. Maybe I'm just getting old. Anyway, my gaming group is a great bunch of guys with lots of creative energy and enthusiasm. The epic arc they've been working on all this time is finally coming to a head. Although I'm the dungeon master for the game, the most interesting part is I have no idea how things are going to sort out. The players never cease to surprise me with their creativity. They do keep me on my toes.
Their characters have risen to a Divine status, and recently centered on the big-baddies, The Nine Diluvian Gods. These Gods control the end of time and The Crack of Doom. The epic struggle is beginning to take shape. Very cool, to say the least. My game is the grist for my writing mill. It is what inspires the stories I create and publish.
I thought I'd check in with a few thoughts about my progress and such. Gotta go for now. Until next time, don't let the sun's rays get you down, and never take any wooden shadow-coins!