Here’s ten things I have learned as a fantasy writer for 30+ years:

1. No matter how brilliantly you write, there will still be people who will assume you write crap because it’s fantasy.
2. There is no way a fantasy writer can answer the question, “What’s it about?” without sounding like an utter idiot.
3. There will always be the odd person who thinks you write the other kind of fantasy.
4. No matter how much you think people who read speculative fiction of any kind must be in search of writing that is sharply different, imagination-challenging and intellectually stimulating, the truth is that sometimes what sells best is the comfortable stuff that wouldn’t challenge a Barbie doll.
5. There is no way a fantasy writer can answer the question, “Will they make a film out of it?” without sounding like you’re making excuses for your book…
6. It’s better not to look at the expression on the face of the person who has just said, “Fantasy? Oh, you write children’s books!” as you try to explain that no, you actually write stuff for adults.
7. Fantasy writers stutter a lot when speaking to people who don’t read fantasy but want to know all about it.
8. Science fiction writers are not always kind about fantasy books or fantasy writers.
9. Any sf/f book that achieves success in the wider world of literary fiction gets called something else—like “magical realism” or “surreal fiction” or “fabulist” or “a visionary portrayal” or “an allegorical look at the modern world” or “a futuristic tale of…” You get the picture. Never science fiction or fantasy. Because successful mainstream writers would never sink so low…
10. Marketing people think dragons on the cover sell books, even if there’s no dragon in the story. Likewise with wolves, chain-mail (especially on women), swords (especially wielded by babes), castles on crags, bearded ancient sages with staffs, eagles, stormy skies, ravens… The Russian editions of my books were the worst. The first cover below displays two almost naked women, one who appears to be a pole dancer and the other wielding a very large sword to fight off a …bear? None of these were present in the text.

Is that the late Patrick Swazye?


Here’s ten things I have learned as a fantasy writer for 30+ years: — 2 Comments

  1. If i talk about a book of fantasy i read ,i get mostly the same reactions if it is not something about harry potter ^^ or if the people i’m talking with are not video gamers.^^ quite funny and predictable.

  2. Amazing how often Harry Potter comes up, isn’t it? Which is sad, really. It means that there are so many people out there who are unaware that there’s tons of fantasy for adults (and that doesn’t mean it’s all about sex, either!)

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