I’ve been asked before, why do you write fantasy? Why not something more real? I’ve also been asked why M/M romance, why poly, why Wiccan, why, why, why. I think it’s a fascinating question, in and of itself, and indicative of the conundrum those of us who like to read fantasy and science-fiction face: we see more than everyday reality, and we want to read stories about more than everyday reality.
Steven King sums this up nicely. He writes stories about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. He twists some element of reality, making it odd or strange, and then throws people into the mix to see what happens. In an interview about one of his recent projects, a television serial called “Under the Dome,” he remarked that he didn’t make the people unusual; the villain is really the darkness in the people themselves when caged for an extended period of time. Chilling.
I’ve written before that the trick to writing a good fantasy or science-fiction is in the details, the world-building, if you will. Ray Bradbury is another one who writes about ordinariness in the extraordinary: suburban Americana on Mars, for example. He also writes about the extraordinary in ordinary terms: a painted, tattooed man whose tattoos were done by a woman from the future. He uses tattoos later, in “Something Wicked This Way Comes,” in more sinister fashion as the tattoos tell the wickedness of the characters and, through them, of mankind itself.
For me, I write fantasy because it allows me to step back and write about things at one remove. I can pick and choose what “ordinary” elements I want to include and have more control over the world. I can idealize some elements, as when I added magic to the world of TIGER TIGER, our upcoming release from Samhain Publishing. As Rachel and I wrote the book, we spent hours roaming Chicago’s north side, looking for the neighborhood where the book takes place, deciding where to put The Factory, the restaurant and BDSM club in the book. We roamed the lakeshore, exploring where Doc jogged on a regular basis. All these ordinary details made writing TIGER TIGER feel more real, despite the unreality of weretigers and magic.
What about you? What are your favorite fantasy stories?