We’ve heard it all. You can’t be a hardcore fantasy fan this long without hearing it.
“You’re just trying to escape.”
“You live in a fantasy world.”
“Oh, you’re one of them.”
(I’ll take that last one as a compliment.)
It’s not about trying to go off and live with dragons and princesses. I got over that when I was ten. It’s not about wishing I had a different life. My life is very blissful, though perhaps just a tiny bit boring. As most long-term fans of fantasy will tell you, it’s not about any of that.
We all have our ways to divert ourselves. Television and movies, sports, and family outings all give us moments above our daily tedium. On television, the escapism can range from train-wreck reality shows to watching chefs create amazing masterpieces, to the HBO re-creation of the latest popular author.
Have you noticed how many of the new movies and series are fantasy? A Game of Thrones. Lord of the Rings. Harry Potter. The Avengers. We want to imagine these possibilities, even if we know they could never come true. Just as people in perfectly happy relationships can enjoy romance stories, fans of fantasy can appreciate the blissful escapism of magic or imaginary worlds without any big, cathartic reason.
We simply love fantasy.
Someone weaves a story. Someone takes the elements of plot, characterization, and setting, and creates worlds where imagination is crucial. It fires up neurons that might have gotten a little flabby from misuse. It invites in the research to temporarily place someone in a setting he may never see in person.
And we eat it up!
I write fantasy because the amount of imagination necessary thrills me. This is coupled with the necessary knowledge and research. I once heard someone say, “Fantasy is the easiest to write, because it doesn’t have to be accurate.” I disagree. True fans of fantasy can pick out every little inconsistency and inaccuracy. Our details haven’t been predetermined by history, science, or modern architecture. We can’t just look them up in an encyclopedia. Writers have to create them, and convince readers that it could have happened. If I chose to write about dragons, and appealed to a true dragon lover, any laziness in my details would be ripped apart in a review.
I write fantasy because it’s what I know best. Growing up in rural Idaho, we had one movie theater and no local TV stations. The internet was just a lofty concept back then. Mainstream literature bored me, so I read fantasy. I read about the young girl who became a knight. About the king who tried to rescue the princess from the dragon, only to find out the princess and dragon were friends. As I matured and the fascination with medieval times faded, the knowledge didn’t. I still knew the difference between a gauntlet and a greave, between a houppelande and a cotehardie.
I write fantasy because I love it. I like writing nonfiction, if it’s a topic that interests me. Horror interests me, and I like romance if the story has an original concept. But as I have the choice of what to write what I want, I choose to write what has fascinated me since childhood. I write what I know.
And so I do.
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