Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Changing things up a bit

Now and then you want to do something a little different. Really, I think you HAVE to do something different--especially as a writer--or things just aren't going to go very well.

I am a writer. I hope by now I've made that clear.

As I said before, I write genre fiction. Mostly I write horror and science fiction with an occasional side trip into urban fantasy and a little bit of political thriller. Okay, a very little bit. But the thing is, I really don't sit down and plan to write any particular genre. I just write stories. More often than not, I let the editors and publishers decide what to call it.

Well, part of what makes the difference, I suppose, is the setting. Put that story in the modern day, throw a few monsters in there and you're likely going to be accused of writing horror. Doesn't bother me, I'm still having a good time telling my tales.

This time around, however, I've started something a wee bit different. I've gone full on sword and sorcery fantasy. New world, new races, hopefully new threats and adventures. Hopefully, because no matter how much I read (and people, I read a LOT) there's just no way in heck I'll ever read all of it. That's part of the fun, of course.

Now back in the day when I was a much younger geek, before I started actually writing or even seriously considering a career as a writer, I read a few libraries worth of fantasy. Nowhere near all of it, of course, but a goodly amount. I burned through a lot of books, most of them fairly meaty and a good percentage part of larger series of books. I read a lot of the more classics of the genre, I dabbled with some of the newer stuff, I tore through what these days is called young adult fiction (I really don't know what it was called back when I was growing up, I just know I read the stuff.). I read Tolkien, I burned through C.S. Lewis, I consumed the books of Lloyd Alexander, and Robert E. Howard, I read Karl Edward Wagner, Michael Moorcock, a great deal of Norse mythology and most of the tales of King Arthur, I read "serious" fantasy and the more tongue in cheek stuff. I read a LOT of fantasy.

And then one day I put down a book and realized that I had read roughly seventeen different versions of the exact same story I I had just finished. Here's the basic plot: Great and powerful evil comes back to the Land (The Land inevitably had a name, but it was interchangeable, really) and as the Land is being slowly consumed by the great and powerful Evil that was driven from the Land previously, a young starry eyed lad (often an orphan or merely misplaced at birth) dreams of the glories of being a hero. Said starry eyed youth--along with a band of misfits, sometimes bitter and other times cheerily cynical--eventually happens upon a Sword of Legend (could also be a ring, a spear, a necklace or really just about anything) and through several trials fights on to save the day.

Is that horribly simplified? Of course it is. Is it sarcastic? Probably a little. My point is, a lot of the stories I read started to sound and feel the same. Part of that was the way the market was running. Epic quests were big at the time. Really, I think they almost always are. As I think often happens, I moved away from that particular genre and played with other ones. Eventually I burned through a lot of science fiction and then I decided to start writing and I started with horror. Why? I have absolutely no idea. It just appealed. It still does, actually.

The last time I wrote a fantasy story it was a short story for an anthology called BENDING THE LANDSCAPE (Edited by Nichola Griffith and Stephe Pagel.). The anthology got a lot of notice when it came out, and won a few awards. A couple of reviews even said nice things about my story, "The King's Folly." It's been well over a decade. Probably closer to two.

 But not that long ago I had an idea for a story and it wouldn't leave me alone. That, by the way, is normally what leads to me writing a novel. An idea or even just an image starts in the back of my head and it bounces around in my skull for a while and instead of losing momentum and going away like most of my notions, it keeps bouncing and insisting on getting noticed.

Currently I am one hundred and eleven double-spaced pages into my fantasy novel. The first book in the series (Yes, it's a series) is tentatively called THE SEVEN FORGES. the first sentence of said novel makes very little sense all by itself, so instead of teasing you with the first sentence, I'll go a little crazy and give you the first whole paragraph. It's a short paragraph, but I rather like it.

It goes something like this:


An unfortunate fact about the Pra-Moresh: They tend to run in packs. The damned things are not only large but they are also violent to a fault. The good news for most people is that they are rare. The bad news for Merros Dulver is that they still show up from time to time and just at that moment, they’d decided to make their presence known. 

So far I'm having a blast with it. Now I just have to find a publisher. That's the part that always slows me down. At any rate, I am currently writing an epic fantasy. This should prove...interesting.

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