I did not know I was a fantasy nerd until an interviewer pointed out to me that ‘you basically love fantasy’ because when she asked me to name my favourite books, I said Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.
She was just making an observation but I was absolutely affronted. I wanted to tell her no, of course I didn’t like fantasy. Pride and Prejudice was also a favourite book and that wasn’t fantasy. How dare she make such assumptions.
Poor 21-year-old Suchita didn’t know how right that interviewer was. Today, as an introduction to me, let me tell you why I absolutely adore to read and write fantasy – in fact I have observed that I cannot write a novel unless it’s set in a world not my own!
It was Christopher Paolini’s Eragon [and the Inheritance cycle] that made me absolutely stark raving mad about dragons. Then I learnt that dragons could have different personalities and not all of them were as cuddly as Toothless [from How to Train Your Dragon series] or as wise as Saphira [Eragon’s dragon]. There was also Smaug and the Hungarian Horntail and Kilgharrah and Tintaglia.
Something I wrote on dragons is here, if you want to take a break later: The golden dragon.
Swords – and sword names
This is definitely a dream. To write a sword fight. I adore the fact that there is a special sword for Aragorn in LOTR and there is an entire legend around Excalibur. I love when a mentor hands over a sword to a protégé and it comes with its own name and baggage.
I think my first foray into magic was Harry Potter which is why I didn’t like that LOTR’s magic wasn’t showy enough. But, but, I loved reading about Allomancy in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series and the almost unbound magic of Merlin from TH White’s The Once and Future King. I love how even though magic can be boundless, it still has strict rules.
I have written an entire manuscript on a magic system called dueryn – which maybe some day will see the light of day.
Make your own rules
While I was doing a teacher training course, one of the things that I learnt which has stayed with me is the importance of structured freedom. I look at fantasy quite like that. You begin with a blank piece of paper and a premise and then you build boundaries around it. And once you have figure out what’s allowed and what’s not, the greatest joy is to then follow those rules or bend them.
One of my favourite world building books was The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. And even though the trilogy left something to be desired, Mark Lawrence’s the Broken Empire series was equally fun to read, especially when Jorge would find some piece of advanced technology in a world that has perhaps left ours far behind.
The detail, the care, the attention, the steering clear of what we know of the norm and yet keeping it believable is an art that I bow down to every time I pick up a fantasy novel.
My current read The Wicked King by Holly Black is set in faerieland. You get to read it from a human’s perspective and the rules to get and keep power are different and cruel. I haven’t been this intrigued by a book in a long time.
And since I’m talking about introducing myself, it would be remiss of me to not mention Robin Hobb and her Realm of the Elderlings books [16 in total]. She’s like my guru when it comes to understanding how to write fantasy well. Her books were the ones that launched my writing ship and I absolutely adore her – also hate her because her books will break you and remake you and reduce you to tears.
What’s your favourite genre to read/write?
This post is a part of Blogchatter Half Marathon.