The Changing Fantasy Genre

For this post I am going to take you back to the dark ages. The days before the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Travelling into the city to the largest bookshop was a wonderful adventure. The beautiful old two-storey building was filled from top to bottom with books. There was only one section that sparked my interest. It consisted of an area less than one side of a bookshelf. Yes, you heard right. Part of the last row was filled with science-fiction. In that tiny space young adult fantasy was placed side by side with fantasy. Gasp! Yes, this is where I found the first edition of Sabriel by Garth Nix. Wedged near the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. The children’s section was far away at the other end of the shop. It was here, tucked neatly away. That the first Harry Potter book appeared.

Growth of Fantasy

Much has changed since then. My last visit to the city revealed walls covered with bookshelves for fantasy. That’s not all, there were two whole bookshelves in a dedication Young Adult section. That’s right, the genre had grown. Not only had it expanded, but it had merged with other genres. Forming all sorts of hybrids and niches. No longer could I be assured of the beloved fantasy tropes. That were eagerly anticipated. Hiding away in the depths of these beautiful covers was a terrible secret. Some of the fantasy tropes were missing.

On the Search for Fantasy

For my part, I look for keywords. That will lead to disappointment or an underwhelming experience. The truth is, in the last few years it has become impossible to tell a hybrid from a fantasy. The cover and blurb look the same. Relying on the key words ‘fantasy’ and ‘epic fantasy’. It’s only the reviews that give the game away. So, there I am in the middle of the shop searching the interwebs for author names. Hoping for a sign in the reviews that the book I am about to buy is a hybrid. I must confess to being caught out. When the reviews repeat the same keywords ‘fantasy’ and ‘epic fantasy’.

When the Cover Says ‘Fantasy’

You can imagine the disappointment that happened next. As I settled down on the couch with my comfy blanket and hot chocolate. Dreaming of taking over the world and fighting worthy villains. The excited anticipation of adventure, magic and danger. Reading through 100 pages and waiting for the story to begin. Making it to 200 pages and still waiting. More than halfway and I was aware of the loss of an entire set of fantasy tropes. I love fantasy, but there is something I cherish even more… Honesty. When a beautiful book with a brilliant blurb promises fantasy that is what I long for.

Midyear Freak Out Book Tag

Gets nominated, looks at pile at half read books. Panics! Reads a new book. Then finishes reading a couple from the pile.

Thank you Claire @brizzlelassbooks for nominating me 🙂 It was absolutely awesome seeing the cover of my second book on Claire’s to be read list. I took that as a subtle hint and now Book 2 and 3 on their way travelling around the world. Every now and then I venture outside my genre to see what’s happening over the fence. Though I must admit to staying with the fantasy genre most of the time. In case you haven’t guessed I am a writer my spare time. When I looked at all the questions I thought the only way this will work is if I include a few books outside of 2017.

1. Best you’ve read so far in 2017

For this I am going to go back to 2016. It’s wonderful to have books written by people I am acquainted with. So a Young Adult Action Thriller sat on my bookshelf for about 6 months. Not my normal choice of genre, but ‘The Cut Out’ was written by my fellow author Jack Heath. I had read some of his earlier work and was aware of the progression of his skill level, but this one caught me off guard. The Cut Out is a teenage version of James Bond that questions social issues between the action scenes. This is the second book I left on the shelf for far too long.

 

2. New release you haven’t read yet, but want to

This may surprise you, but I did make a half-hearted attempt at approaching publishers. Prior to self-publishing because I suffer from fatigue. Pantera Press sent me a lovely reply. At the time they were specialising in eBooks. When I made the rare trip into the city I discovered they have been printing paperback. In true fantasy style I picked up the trilogy for ‘The Medoran Chronicles’ by Lynette Noni. One fantasy book is not enough. You may not know that in Australia it is near impossble to get fantasy traditionally published. Congratulations to Pantera Press for supporting the genre.

3. Most anticipated release of the second half of 2017

Tad Williams revisited the world of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. What more can I say? This fantasy series is responsible for keeping me up late at night when I was in high school. It is also the reason why I have not read the Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Gasp! From Tad Williams I moved on to the ‘Wheel of Time’ series by Robert Jordan and there was no going back. I am really looking forward to ‘The Heart of What was Lost’ and ‘The Witchwood Crown’ by Tad Williams.

4. Biggest disappointment of 2017

Please excuse me while I travel back to 2015. It was the year of disappointing reads. I will rush over the most ghastly disappointment. This can be blamed on the marketing team of a traditional publisher. The moral of the story is, do not try to pass off a paranormal romance as fantasy. Just don’t. I have only ever consented to reading two romance novels in my life and this is not one of them. For the author’s sake I will not mention what it was.

5. Biggest Surprise

Let me hop back in the time machine and get back to 2017. ‘Half a King’ by Joe Abercrombie had been recommended by my beta reader. He reads fantasy and grim dark, and I was not sure if this was payback for asking him to read a story about a teenage sorceress. He’s a Joe Abercrombie fan. Upon opening the book my first thought was ‘I didn’t think anyone could cram that many tropes into the first 30 pages’. I am still reading and so far it has been a pleasant surprise.

6. Favourite new author (debut or new to you)

I am still reading Joe Abercrombie’s ‘Half a King’ so the jury is still out on this one, but it is certainly in the lead.

7. Newest fictional crush

In all seriousness the only crushing I do is trying to figure out how to mess up someone else’s fantasy world. Cue maniacal laughter… Mwa ha ha ha!
I ventured into the second ever romance novel I have ever chosen to read. Thank goodness for Duke Perrington. There’s nothing like a decent villain to spoil that happy fantasy romance. I am referring to ‘Throne of Glass’ by Sarah J. Mass. You were all thinking I was going to say Chaol weren’t you? There is a huge amount of work that goes into creating a great villain, I admire the author for that.

8. Newest favourite character

Quinn from ‘The Impossible Quest’ series by Kate Forsyth. This is a middle-grade fantasy that follows the journey of four children to save their kingdom from an evil witch. Quinn is a good witch who has to use all her skills to help the group find magical creatures.

9. Book that made you happy

‘Wolves of Witchwood’ by Kate Forsyth. This story dared to venture away from the sparkly pretty version of a unicorn in a children’s book. It’s always nice when magical creatures are given more realistic traits.

10. Favourite book to movie adaptation of 2017 you’ve seen

For this I would have to go back to 2015 with ‘The Martian’ by Andy Weir. It’s so nice to see a science fiction story that was written just for the sake of being science fiction.

11. Favourite review you’ve written this year

I can write a novel, but give me a review and I struggle with more than one sentence. I am the type of person who will write ‘it was good’ if I enjoyed the story. This year I am aiming for two sentences or more in a review.

12. Most beautiful book you bought or received this year

For beautiful I would have to go with ‘Crooked Kigndom’ by Leigh Bardugo. This is a book I bought based wholly on the design of the cover. The image is either a town or the wings and tail of a crow depending on how you look at it.

13. Books you need to read by the end of the year

Let’s see… I have ‘Half a King’ by Joe Abercrombie, ‘The Impossible Quest’ series by Kate Foryth, and ‘Six of Crows’ by Leigh Bardugo. I will be adding ‘The Heart of What was Lost’ by Tad Williams soon.

That’s about it, and thank you for the nomination 🙂

Halfway in a Series

Every time I lift the pen to write my mind wanders. Oh what a journey it’s been! From the first inkling of an idea to the decision to publish. I was busy writing as the wind rattled outside. The old house creaked. While the moonlight shone through the window as the trees swayed. I settled in a warm and cosy place that had seen better days. There was one part of a journey in the midst of a series preparing to unfold.

Characters

This time there was trouble ahead with an antagonist that had been underestimated. Half the novel had to be re-written. Never expect your villains to do what you think they will. There was also another pressure. The time had come for the main character to return. To the land left far behind, but not for the intended reason.

Discovery

As the story moves forward more of the past has been revealed. This is where I admit to being more of a pantser than a plotter. A magical cloud has been lifting as every little piece appears on the page. One part of the journey is known and the other is yet to be discovered. If anyone had told me that the characters have a habit of taking over the story. I would not have believed it.

A Story Awaits

There is a world of fantasy. Filled with scheming smelly dragons, secretive wizards, and feuding sorcerers. Waiting for anyone who loves to curl up on the couch and become lost in the pages of story.

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