Let’s face it, we’ve all read some truly atrocious fantasy novels. For some people that may be the reason they don’t read the genre as a whole, for which I can hardly blame them.
Neither do I!
To be completely honest: I’ve stopped reading generic High Fantasy novels. I just can’t take it anymore. Not only is it generally a reworking of old trite nonsense which is quite painful to read, it also makes me angry. I get angry that this junk gets published when I know I write better, I get angry that people buy these books (thus propagating the myth that these books are desirable works of fiction) and I get angry that writers write them.
How dare they!
The fantasy genre is snubbed enough in literary circles without these idiots bulking up the shelves with their drivel. In my creative writing module at university my professor, the author John Burnside, at one point announced something like: “I hope none of you are writing fantasy or any such thing!” At which point I felt obliged to point out that, yes, I do write fantasy and have done so since my first random, meandering stories as a child. The whole classroom, of only 15 people or so, suddenly became a little more awkward.
I remember trying very hard during his class to not write fantasy for my assignments; despite my confident assertion he had struck a chord which continued to reverberate throughout the semester. It was only for my dissertation the following year that I submitted a work of fantasy, a single chapter in what would later become Exodus. Burnside wrote the comment: “I wonder what she will make of the real world” when he marked it. I still got an 18/20, though.
So here’s my challenge to any other writers of fantasy, or any much-maligned type of genre fiction: write the best goddamned novels ever to be read by human eyes.
We’ll show those bastards.