Almost every writer has the same reason for writing. He or she is a natural storyteller and just can’t stop. Words flow in the mind like blood flows in the veins. The reasons for writing what we write vary. It is as individual as each writer.
My reasons for writing fantasy fiction are based on two sayings by two different people.
The first saying is by Ann McCutchan, my creative writing professor when I was at UNT pursuing my master’s degree. On the last night of the last class before I graduated, Professor McCutchan said, “Go home and look at your book shelf. See what you like to read. That is what you should write.” To call that profound is an understatement.
I love reading fantasy fiction, as well as the myths and legends of Northern Europe, Greece, Persia, and oh heck, if it has a plucky hero, I’ll read it with relish no matter the culture. They resonate with me. They are tales of strong men and women, doing the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. They are heroes and heroines, throwing themselves at the face of evil. They fight for family, friends, and village, and not just for king and flag. They outwit or outfight the bad guys. In those stories, the good guys can win.
Besides, I like magic and swords. They don’t really fit well in science-fiction, Star Wars notwithstanding.
That is what I love to read. So, it’s what I write. The Aura Lockhaven stories hearken back to those tales. They are old-fashioned sword and sorcery adventures, heavy on the sorcery as the protagonist is a wizardess. I like reading morally ambiguous stories, such as A Song of Ice and Fire and The Sword of Truth, but I don’t want to write them. Not yet. They are too much like listening to the evening news for me to do more than just read. Old-fashioned adventure is as far removed from the evening news as day from night. In adventure, the good guys can win. In our world, they can’t. Well, I want them to win.
The second saying is by Walt Disney. He said, “I would rather entertain and hope that people learned something than educate people and hope they were entertained.” This was his goal with the movie Bambi. He wanted to educate people about the danger of unattended fire in the forest. It astonished Disney that he also cut deer hunting in half in one year. I still hear “I don’t want to kill Bambi” from hunters who will bag anything but a deer.
My stories are entertaining. They are a diversion from the evening news. Right now, America could use some diversion from the evening news, and I could use some diversion from Americans needing some diversion from the evening news. In the process of writing an entertaining story, I underlie it with a philosophical foundation. That way, I hope to educate, enlighten, and encourage the reader. That’s a much better way of exhorting the reader to try the impossible than a lecture.
I won’t go into details, but what my beta reader learned from A Path of Stones astounded me. It was not my intention. It was simply a pleasant side-effect of trying to ground a fantasy in as much realism as possible. That is not unlike Disney inadvertently changing the minds of millions of hunters. I’m interested to see if the story has the same effect on other readers.
How about you? Why do you write what you write?