Welcome to the Spectrum of Speculative Fiction Blog Hop. This event, over the weekend, links the blogs of a group of speculative fiction writers whose work covers the whole gamut of fantasy, science fiction and supernatural horror. You can find links to all the blogs involved at the bottom of this post, where you can read about the authors and their books, as well as entering for their various giveaways.
For my share in the giveaways, I'll be donating a copy of The Treason of Memory, my fantasy ebook from Musa Publishing that was published late last year:
Combining the sordid world of espionage with dark magic, The Treason of Memory is an action-packed adventure story set in a fantasy world of flintlocks and rapiers.
To enter, you just have to visit my website at http://www.nykiblatchley.co.uk/, go to the Contact page (via the sidebar) and send me a message letting me know you wish to enter, and which ebook format you use. At the end of the blog hop, I'll choose a winner by means of the latest, cutting-edge randomising system (the details are top secret, but it involves slips of paper and a hat) and both announce and contact the winner.
I mainly write fantasy, but that's a very broad category, and I don't even stick to it all the time. My very first published story was horror, and I've strayed into SF and historical fiction as well, but the heart of my writing lies between epic fantasy and sword & sorcery, though not always in "traditional" settings.
So what is it that attracts me to these kind of stories? Well, the cop-out answer would be "just because". From the time I was about eight, I loved the legends of King Arthur, and I devoured every retelling I could find. It didn't matter, somehow, that they all told the same stories ― the little differences were worth it. I read and loved the Narnia books, too, and when I read Lord of the Rings at fifteen, that was that. I was hooked for life.
I think there are three things that I love most about both reading and writing books like this. One is, quite simply, the sense of wonder: there's no limit to what it's possible to encounter in fantasy. You want to experience flying by your own power? Casting spells that can change the world? Debating philosophy with an sentient plant? Fantasy can give it all to you. (At least, I don't know if anyone's done the last. Note ― write a philosophical plant into a story.)
The second thing is that I've always loved history, and fantasy ― especially epic fantasy ― offers a unique opportunity to explore more history than exists in the real world. World-making, which is such a big part of epic fantasy, involves creating countries, peoples and their histories in a way that's both unique and believable. That means understanding how history works, and applying it to something that didn't exist before.
The third thing is that fantasy (speculative fiction in general, but fantasy in particular) offers the chance to ask big questions without being bogged down in specifics. Realistic fiction is fine for examining how things work in the real world, but it's generally about topics everyone already has an opinion on. A social realist could write a novel examining how, say, the middle-east conflict affects people caught up in it. A fantasy writer, by making it a conflict between fictional nations, or even between elves and dwarves, can examine the basic moral issues of what happens when two antagonistic peoples claim the same territory.
It's not just big political issues. You and I will never be offered absolute power over the world at the risk of absolute corruption, since there are no real rings of power. We'll never have to achieve an ethical balance in the use of magic, or find out how we'd deal with being immortal; but fantasy can challenge us to consider how we'd respond to these, and that can help us understand our moral stance.
In a recent blog post, I pointed out that all fiction is set in an invented world ― it's just that fantasy is more honest about it than most. All kinds of fiction have things they can do better than any other, but I feel that fantasy is the purest type of fiction and, at its best, can reach the greatest heights.
Besides, it's fun. That's the main thing, isn't it?