I just finished reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods yesterday, and it’s a little bit shocking I never read it sooner. But it made me think about why I don’t like setting my own novels in the real world, even if that world is being turned into something fantastic.
First of all, I think my inherent laziness couldn”t handle the amount of research involved in dealing with real places and real things! It’s absolutely terrible of me to admit this, but it’s so much easier just making things up as I go along. At least I’m honest about it!
But second, and more importantly, since I mentally inhabit the worlds I write in, I simply have no interest in reinhabiting the real world. Reality be damned, I want fantasy. If I could honestly enter the realms of my favourite novels, I’d be there right now. I want unspoilt landscapes, pre-industrial settlements, wind-powered sea voyages, horses as the state-of-the-art mode of transportation, battles with swords and arrows, leather and chain mail, falconry and hunting, subsistence farming, minstrels and lutes, cloaks and capes as practical outerwear choices, mead and ale, poultices and tinctures, mysterious old women living in the woods, sage old men living in the mountains, animal companions, hijinks, adventure and quests. No, you can keep your internal combustion engines, your technological advances, medical breakthroughs, kevlar, machine guns, international stock market, breakfast cereals, personal hygiene, internal plumbing, higher education and mass produced everything. No thanks, 2012, I don’t want it. Give me 1012.
Back in the real world, that’s honestly why I live on a farming estate away from large population centres, why I own chickens and make a living in falconry. I’m trying to close my eyes, put my fingers in my ears, and go “LA LA LA LA LA!!” to the modern world. That’s not to say I want to go joining any Amish-style communes; I freely admit that many of the things I listed above, such as personal hygiene, indoor plumbing, and medical breakthroughs (and let’s face it, I do love my breakfast cereals), are sensible and I’m rather grateful for their existence. But if, and it’s a big if, I could trade it for living in a fantasy world – I so very would.
And on that note, I’m determined to inhabit one of the worlds of my own making today and spend a serious amount of time on Cobault. I’ve been lazy and full of excuses lately but today I have nothing else planned and will just have to be strong-willed and withstand the lure of laziness, the internet, and inane television programmes. Now if only I really lived in a fantasy world, I wouldn’t have these readily-available distractions! But I’m fairly sure I’d find something else to occupy myself, like hiding subliminal naughty words in my needlepoint, and doing that thing when you lift the body of a chicken but its head stays perfectly still. Yeah I’d be doing that.