Monday, December 6, 2010

Guest Post from Author Cinda Williams Chima!

So how many of you are familiar with this awesome author? If you haven't checked out her work yet then you should get on it pronto. She writes great fantasy! (I'm currently reading and will have reviews coming up shortly so stay tuned.)

Cinda was kind enough to write up a guest post for us so let's check it out!

This was what I wanted to know:

What is the driving force behind being a fantasy writer?

I don’t know which is worse in the eyes of some readers and writers of SERIOUS BOOKS—writing fantasy fiction, or writing for teens. In the tone of voice an adult might use when admiring a two-year-old’s childish drawing, they say, “Keep at it, and maybe one day you’ll get to write a real book.”

I have enough vulnerabilities already, heaven knows—and authors in any genre share vast opportunities for humiliation. I’ve already discussed why I write for teens and mentioned being dissed as a writer of fantasy fiction

So why write fantasy?

1. The easy answer is that fantasy sells, and has been selling for years, especially to young readers. On a recent New York Times bestseller list (October 1, 2010) eight of ten bestselling chapter books and five of ten bestselling series books were fantasy novels of one kind or another. Fantasy these days is such a broad genre that there’s room for a broad range of readers and writers.

That said, I think it’s a mistake to follow trends. Writing a novel is difficult enough. I think readers can tell when you’re just going through the motions. So, keep an eye on the market but write from the heart. I love all kinds of fiction, including fantasy, therefore I write it. That’s not to say I always will.

2. Fantasy presents more options when it comes to plot and conflict. The element of magic is one more weapon in the writer’s arsenal. Not only does Buffy the Vampire Slayer have to navigate the social minefield of high school—but there’s a hell-hole under the cafeteria.

In The Demon King, Han Alister is an orphaned streetgang leader who’s being hunted for murders he didn’t commit. Also, he may be demon-cursed, and he’s carrying a magical amulet that could destroy him. Princess Raisa ana’Marianna stands to inherit a political snakepit of a queendom from her mother the queen—if she can manage to hold off a rebellion of powerful wizards desperate to regain power.

Alternative worlds expand options as well. For example, The Seven Realms series takes place in a quasi-medieval world. In medieval times, sixteen-year-olds were adults, for all intents and purposes. And so, as a writer, I can put my teenage characters into dire and dangerous situations; I can shovel heavy responsibility onto their shoulders and send them out on the road without hearing from Children’s Protective Services.

3. Fantasy provides a forum in which to explore Big Ideas in a safe place. I don’t mean safe for the characters, I mean safe for the reader.
Long ago and/or far away provides a certain distance. It’s clearly a created world, even if you manage to entice the reader into it. In the Queendom of the Fells, I can address environmental and gender issues without the distractions of contemporary politics. I can explore revisionist history without pointing any fingers. I can put the conflict between good and evil into stark relief in an ecumenical way.

Fantasy can free the reader of pre-conceived notions, expectations, and biases and allow them to experience a different sensibility.

4. All fiction provides escape from real life, if only briefly. The reader chooses the escape that suits him or her best. A gritty contemporary novel may not offer escape from a gritty contemporary world. Fantasy does.

In short, fantasy is fun. In a world that seems bent on the destruction of pleasure reading, fantasy satisfies.

Huge thanks for stopping by!

1 comment:

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