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What kind of fantasy stories would you like to read?


If you enjoy Robert Jordan, Robin Hobb and JRR Tolkien but want something fast and furious with a mystic twist, then you're in the right place. If you've never heard of those epic fantasy writers, read on. I am one of the new breed of fantasy authors who write in a personal, lyrical style. Welcome to my world:

Epic fantasy series by Greg Hamerton: The Tale of the Lifesong

There is a song that drifts on the breeze through all the world. Its rhythms are echoed in our breath, the music is caught in our laughter, hidden in our language, woven through our life. Singers reach for the melody, but it is too delicate to hold and too elusive to remember. As the Ages pass, so the Lifesong retreats under the sounds of our time, its potent beauty and danger ever more a mystery. The Tale of the Lifesong begins here >


What can you find on this site?


I'd like to help you find the best fantasy books around. So apart from reading free samples of my new fantasy series, there's a list of the top fantasy books you simply must read. You can browse my latest fantasy book reviews. In the fantasy writing section I share insights on the craft of writing fantasy novels. And down below you can find my fantasy news section where I blog about the world of magic, myth and mayhem.


What is fantasy fiction?


What makes some books fantasy, and others fact? Both are tales: histories are constructed from records, fantasy stories are crafted from dreams. What matters most is where the books can take you. At the heart of fantasy lies magic, but when the magic respects scientific principles the story becomes science fiction and the effect can be profound: you discover a gateway into another world. Speculative fiction is diverse, it twists into all kinds of shapes in the hands of the best fantasy authors: epic fantasy, sword & sorcery, young adult fantasy, dark fantasy, comic fantasy, gothic horror. Then there are all the exciting variations of science fiction: paranormal, supernatural, time-slip, parallel worlds, futuristic, post-apocalypse and everything else bright minds encounter by asking 'what if?' I believe magic is woven into the fabric of our world. Let me show you.




"In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded." Terry Pratchett





Fantasy News


How to become a fantasy author

05 Mar

Greg Hamerton | fantasy authorHow did you get into writing?
I used to do well with English writing assignments, but didn’t ever consider becoming an author, it didn’t seem like fun. I didn’t understand at the time that what frustrated me about the writing was it was all short form exercises (scenes) and often done in a hurry (under one hour) so there wasn’t enough time for my (slow) mind to build the story world enough for my creativity to blossom. I really enjoy long form writing. It’s only when you try and write a whole book that you discover the catacombs of thought in which you can get lost, and the delicious and slightly dangerous ideas that are drawn towards you as you wander about in that state of discovery.

How do you make up a story?
I’m still learning this bit, but a story is made from the links between events, the way one thing builds on another, and as such it’s an invisible net and quite hard to grasp. It is very satisfying when you link things up in the way that feels right (the story flows), but I find it very difficult to plan and plot it before the scenes exist. So the only way I know to write a story is to imagine some powerful scenes, then develop what would logically follow as a consequence, and try to join them into a cohesive whole as I feel my way towards the real story, which is the net connecting the scenes, and not the scenes themselves.

How did you know you would be good enough?
I only knew I wasn’t happy doing the career I first started (accountancy) or the part-time work I’d tried instead. The idea of being an author slowly grew on me. I began by writing short descriptive pieces with an insight into some aspect of flying (I’m a paragliding instructor), usually little stories about an adventure in the sky that taught me something about myself. I thank Richard Bach (author of Jonathan Livingstone Seagull) for that. I gathered the best of these and cobbled them together in a rather offbeat metaphysical novel called Beyond The Invisible. Then I began to sketch out ideas for what I imagined would be a ‘real’ novel, a grand epic fantasy which became The Tale Of the Lifesong. I learned as I wrote, drawing on many years of being an avid reader. I never ‘knew’ I could write a good story, I was just confident that if other people could do it, so could I.

What advice would you give to young writers?
If you’re a scholar or student, you might have more time you can free up for writing than most people can afford. You might be paying rent and working part-time, but your fixed costs are low compared to what will come to you later in life (house, children, pension, medical, etc). This puts you in a special position of being able to take more risks with your time than many other writers. This leads to greater creative freedom because you can experiment, explore and have fun with your writing. I’m not suggesting trying to write something wierd, just aim to write different kinds of stories until you find something that really ignites your mind. Then throw yourself into it.

If you could change one thing, what would it be?
I wish I’d started writing novels earlier, in my teens. Later in life it can become harder to find the time to write, as your responsibilities accumulate and the pressure to earn money increases. I frittered away a lot of writing time in my twenties with poems, journals and self-reflective meditations, which left me with lots of fragments that are of no use to anyone. If I’d put a basic story framework down and spent the time trying to fill it in I could have been creating assets and practising my craft. It does take practice to lose the cumbersome thinking everyone begins with and to move on to displaying the story instead of the inside of the author’s head (ugh).

I also wouldn’t advise spending too much time worrying about the dos and don’ts of writing style. The real learning comes from within, when you are writing, and good stories reach through the words and grip the reader’s attention. It might take you a few tries, but if you keep learning, you’ll get there.

Greg Hamerton | fantasy author

 

Fantasy writing advice – getting published, getting readers, getting paid

28 Feb

Second Sight - new fantasy on KindleA reader contacted me wanting some advice on embarking on a writing career. I share some nuts-and-bolts from my experience as a fantasy author.

My fear isn’t about writing itself, it’s that I’ll write a book that’s passably decent and that I’ll find it impossible to get people to read it. No-one will publish it, I’ll put it up as an e-book but be unable to persuade anyone to read it. That I lack an online community or the ability to build one, or any of the other things that people talk about when it comes to getting word of mouth about books. Is it possible to get it out there and into the hands of people? Is it just a case of sending a manuscript out over and over and getting rejected? Or do I need to spend time working on building a community around me as well as actually writing?

Most writers grapple with these questions, so I’ll try to help.

Nobody will publish your book? Well you’re in good company then (yeah, apparently the Lifesong is unpublishable ;-). Unless you have some direct inside contacts in the industry, I don’t think it’s worth wasting your time. I wasted mine, then self published using my own company to print books and get into the stores (big big bad idea and waste of £10,000) and then (hallelujah!) using Amazon Kindle. You can publish your book, today.

Nobody will read your book? This is a demon every author must learn to ignore. Don’t look it in the eye… Every book can be a sinker. The best you can do is stack the odds in your favour by writing a book based on a compelling idea, then pay for a professional cover design, professional copyediting and blurb and load it up to Amazon Kindle.

Firstly, read http://greghamerton.com/2011/10/the-free-digital-attack-for-new-fantasy-authors/

That still applies. A free story leading into a main story you sell is the simplest way to get exposure and sales.

How did you afford to write your books? To get started, what I did was focus exclusively on writing my novels, and wrote as long as my savings lasted. That got a bulk of work completed before my time got fragmented. Even so, my first novel took 2 years to complete. The second took 3. I don’t recommend writing the way I do :-) My books are double the length of many. Maybe you’ll find you can write a well-plotted shorter book in a few months, but it will still take a few months after that to self-edit, commission a cover design and work with a copyeditor. Skip those and you’re just going on to stage half-dressed.

Financial hardship kills creativity; limited time restricts creativity. Of the two, I’d choose the second. That’s where I am now, working paid work (luckily I enjoy it) and trying to get a sliver of time in each day to write. It requires immense self-discipline, and I mostly fail. But I reached the limit of what I could endure hoping sales income would suddenly materialise and finance my full-time writing dream.

How much does a fantasy author earn? I’m a low-midlister in fantasy, I suppose – I’ve sold 11,000 copies of Lifesong books (digital) 1,000 (print) and have had 85,000 free downloads. With the exception of occasional 3 month spikes due to advertising/promotions, my books don’t have much visibility on Amazon now, which is what determines sales. I earn about £5,000 a year from my two fantasy novels, and it’s tapering off because I haven’t produced a third book in the series for over three years. You can’t live on that in the UK, or write full time believing it will support your family. If I could produce one book every year that picture would change to a liveable income, as I’d now have 5-6 books instead of 2. You need to be prolific AND good to survive on writing.

Other authors I’ve watched in my niche have uploaded some ordinary-looking books, and some have just taken off (ten times my sales). There are definitely some self-published fantasy authors who are earning enough on Kindle to write full time, and many in the romance, thriller and mystery genres. The ability to publish regularly seems to make a big difference, and some generic story ideas have surprising appeal.

How do you get exposure? You can easily get your book out there using Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing. No need to build a ‘community’, I don’t believe facebook/websites/blogs/tours/book trailers or anything else has any reliable impact on sales that justifies the time. The only things that matter are the idea of the story, the cover and low / free entry price into the series. You can run periodic promotions and very selective advertising to boost the visibility, but they have a short lifespan. The writing itself will determine the reviews, which have a small added impact on the sales. If it shows real promise on Amazon, Amazon automatically increases the visibility.

There’s never been a better time to try – the market is significant, the access is open to you, the chance of getting exposure is good. But the outcome is still as uncertain as ever, so make other financial plans.

Good luck chasing the dream,

Greg Hamerton | Fantasy author
www.greghamerton.com

 

Book trailer for The Riddler’s Gift

25 Mar

This was fun, trying to capture the mood and theme of The Riddler’s Gift in a book trailer! Now I feel epic ;-)
 

 

Greg Hamerton interviewed by Orangeberry

16 Jan

Greg Hamerton | fantasy author

Orangeberry Book Tours featured me yesterday in a fantasy author interview. We spoke about the writing life, current projects and The Riddler’s Gift.

Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it? I’ve got it right now [grins]. Stories sometimes need time to develop. In the meantime I write something else … which results in some interesting author’s blogs and interviews.

Can you share a little of your current work with us? Because many readers responded to the character of the Riddler himself, I am working on a prequel that explores his early years. In The Riddler’s Gift he appears as a wise and tricky guide; when he’s young he’s both unwise and unguided.

How did you come up with the title? The Riddler’s Gift is a title that begs a question of the reader. Who is the riddler? What is the gift? One might suspect it has something to do with the ability to solve puzzles, to see the truth hidden in plain view. The whole book is an introduction to the major story, Second Sight, when you get to look at things again and realise that the cosy little fantasy tale built around a conflict between dark and light is a bit of a school room, and so the gift was the transformation that comes upon the heroine from being encouraged to look at herself and achieve self-mastery. Some readers won’t see the story in that way, and that’s okay too, for them it’s just a catchy title.

Can you tell us about your main character? I have five main characters, because it is more interesting to see things develop from different points of view and helps to develop the tension between them. The story is centred around the singer Tabitha, because I wanted a female lead to show us a fresh version of the journey to wizardry in a typically male-dominated fantasy role. I also wanted to bring in some romance and sensitivity to the tale.

How did you develop your plot and characters? The characters drove the story: I’d imagine being in a scene as the villain, and wrote what took place. Then play ‘what happens because of that?’ Most consequences are logical, but magic is tricky, and can be a big problem in fantasy writing. Most authors either solve the problem by using very little of it (e.g. Tolkien, Martin) or by devising some impediment to its use. I am fascinated by magic, so I wanted to see what would happen if the wizards were actually allowed to use their power. It plays havoc on your plotting, because powerful wizards can only be threatened by those of greater power, and very soon you have a conflict of apocalyptic proportions. I didn’t want to overwhelm new readers, so I knew Riddler’s Gift it had to be restricted to the first level of magic and the greater possibilities of power are only hinted at beyond the shield of Eyri.

Who designed the cover? A brilliant artist who goes by the tag of theDURRRRIAN on deviantart.com (a great website for browsing potential cover art styles). I contacted him and asked for a quote. I described the concept and within a day he had produced such striking artwork it seemed to come from within the story world. He has serious talent. I am a graphic designer so I was happy to do the typography myself but most artists would be able to do that too. A good cover is a great boost to a story because it helps to entice readers into your world.

Why did you choose to write this particular book? I’ve read a lot of fantasy and enjoyed the stories immensely, but it seemed to me there was something different missing in every one, like a missing word in a spell that stopped the story from completely sweeping me away. Writing The Riddler’s Gift comes from the need to say what hasn’t been said, to complete the unfinished tales. Although I strive to make it great, I don’t believe that I will get it completely right. My writing will have its own gaps that will inspire new authors to craft their own tales. So it’s not only good writing that inspires, it’s also the silence around good writing that begs to be filled by new voices.

What was the hardest part about writing this book? The longer the story, the harder it becomes to hold the whole thing in your head. Being a full-length epic of 250,000 words it has a scale that sometimes boggled my mind, especially when other work took command of my neurons for a few weeks. So I’d often reread the book from beginning to refresh my memory, and again for every editing pass. This has taught me how wise Terry Pratchett is (short, standalone, punchy stories) and it has given me immense respect for authors like George RR Martin who can weave together authentic tales that span thousands of pages.

How do you promote this book? I’ve chosen to focus exclusively on Amazon Kindle, because it’s the largest etailer and has the simplest author interface and tools. When there is a surge of interest in the book, then Amazon’s system takes over and promotes it well, but when it’s out of the limelight it’s hard to find effective promotion platforms. Most paid advertising I have used is ineffective. Occasionally the book will be free on Amazon which boosts publicity, but it’s usually very low priced anyway to reward curious readers with an easy buying decision. I put most of my energy into writing a good story and editing it well which leads to readers posting positive reviews.

Will you write others in this same genre? Definitely, I love fantasy.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? Life is a miracle and just being alive is reason enough to be happy. I’m an optimist, and although I enjoy creating a moody dark gothic atmosphere in my stories, there’ll always be a flame at the end of the tunnel. Wily readers might suspect a dragon.

How much of the book is realistic? The paradox of fantasy writing is that fantasy becomes unbelievable when it’s unrealistic. My magic system obeys strict rules and the laws of nature are respected. If you want to enter a world where “magic was a raw force, released from the confining code that so tightly binds it today” then you will believe what you see in The Riddler’s Gift.

Have you included a lot of your life experiences, even friends, in the plot? Friends sometimes inspire a character, but usually they are unsuitable for fiction, because my friends are nice people. Stories are driven by conflict, and people with serious flaws are more interesting. So I tend to use my enemies as fuel for writing. If I encounter an arrogant muppet in real life, he will become a villain, and some time later, lose his head. It’s an effective way to deal with my rage. It’s a good thing I’m not a wizard. There’d be too many corpses around.

How important do you think villains are in a story? Villains are easy to identify with, because we all have flaws. They don’t have to be pure evil; all they need is one overdeveloped human trait. When a fly irritates me, I smash it, and feel satisfied when it’s dead. So it’s easy for me to understand how someone could swing a sword. If it’s the smaller one doing the swinging, I might secretly applaud him. Of course, in the modern society it’s not entirely right, but it feels good to imagine laying waste to our enemies, because it’s in our nature to do so. Learning to consider other resorts before smashing our opponents with a double-handed Morningstar is to begin the journey from the middle ages to the 21st century. Villains are essential to a satisfying story, we need them to express our rage, to indulge in our fantasies, or just be utterly reprehensible, and ultimately, to pay for their sins so that we might continue our enlightened and guilt-free existence.

Are you reading any interesting books at the moment? A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin. I’m thoroughly enjoying the way he keeps me engaged in the story with strong interesting characters each with their own personal ambitions and challenges, and the way they are all woven together into one ever-changing but unified saga. He has a very accessible style, and he is ruthless. His story is set in a similar mythic space to my fantasy series, so switching between reading and writing is a pleasure, and he’s definitely adding fuel to my creative fire right now.

 
 

Indie Book of the Day Award

24 Nov

The Riddler's Gift epic fantasy book coverIndie Book of the DayThe Riddler’s Gift has been selected for the Indie Book of the Day Award!

As Zarost would say, “If you see the dragon fly, best you drink the flagon dry.”

Time to celebrate!

 

Epic fantasy book review: The Black God’s War by Moses Siregar III

13 Nov

The Black God's Warstarstarstarstar

“A memorable modern fantasy in a classically ancient world, about the burden of great power, the emotional chasms of war and the love that might bridge the divide.”

Siregar designed his own cover and it clearly displays his creative talent. You can instantly see what you are getting: a carefully crafted and appealing work about a beautiful girl who is partly shadowed by her classic armour. It promises battles, heroes and love, with the mood of an ancient Greek epic … and it delivers!

It has a strong plot, clear character development and a confident youthful tone. If you want to wield godlike powers against formidable foes yet feel very human, then The Black God’s War is a fine example of indie fantasy that explores classic territory in a new way and blends epic with emotion.

In keeping with the style of the Iliad, there’s an ongoing swords-and-sandals battle, sometimes offstage, that spans most of the book. The action is focused on one citadel and doesn’t really escalate to the scale of a war, but this prevents bloodshed from overwhelming the story. The battles are used more as a setting for the lead characters to have encounters and develop ideas about each other.

Instead we move swiftly towards, then in and out of the front line, learning things from the perspective of the main characters. Although the magic of the gods and those in their thrall strays into mythical territory without much science to convince the sceptics, this is in keeping with the Homeric mythology, where ten gods would perhaps seem economical and their restrained behaviour rather more modern than divine.

The empathy with which we are shown the three main characters allows us to be drawn along in the flow of the narrative. True to the legend that inspired it, the world feels like ancient Greece at war with ancient India, with plenty of clashing swords, bitter kings, discontent royal children and interfering gods. However with Siregar’s modern version we get better character development, enlightening first-person-perspectives and sensitively scribed sex.

For me, an outstanding aspect of the writing was the depiction of the intimidating, hardened veterans whose hatred has kept the neighbouring lands locked in a seemingly eternal war, and the fact that the reason for the war has been forgotten (as with many prolonged wars throughout history, the war continues on the momentum of racial hatred guided by stubborn egotistical rulers). The psychic warfare becomes more interesting as the story develops but perhaps offers too much power with too little explanation. The metaphysical elements, if a bit illogical, allow for an exploration of the relationship between humankind and its gods. The gods seemed somewhat undeveloped and appeared to interfere only occasionally, but for simplicity, keeping them in the background is probably wise.

[spoiler alert]

There are few flaws, of more interest to writers than readers, and impossible to discuss without revealing crucial plot elements. The cover is perfect, but it defines the lead character so clearly that I had a double-take every time Lucia’s hair colour was defined otherwise in the text. Vermilion? Is that necessary? It clashed with the expectations of classic beauty set up by cover, and seemed to be more suited to an anime series, an influence which surfaces again in combat scenes.

The messianic prince Ciao is well developed and admirable, but he loses credibility when the author attempts to shoehorn his choices into the pattern of the Iliad. If you write Achilles to be someone other, then his choices will reflect his own character. Achilles was propelled by vainglorious wrath. When Ciao wants revenge this is laid upon his deep intrinsic compassion and peace-loving nature, so his behaviour doesn’t ring true at times. It’s perhaps a good idea to use an existing legend only as a starting point, and to allow your unique characters to lead the story along new paths, to a completely different and truer end. This is a continued problem for any author when trying to follow a plot as character motivations drive them in a divergent direction.

[end spoiler]

It could do with a polish to smoothen out the occasional copy-editing slips and inappropriate adjectives. These editorial suggestions are minor, on the whole the story is an engaging narrative that weaves together various storylines in well-balanced imagined world, with a steady progression of events that lead to a smashing climax.

Available on Amazon US | UK

 

The best epic fantasy deal: it’s free!

31 Aug

The Riddler's Gift epic fantasy book coverFor today and tomorrow only, The Riddler’s Gift is free on Amazon Kindle ( US | UK ). Tell your friends! It’s a great way to start the epic fantasy series that SFBOOK called “Sheer magic”.

A shadow steals across Eyri. One by one, the Lightgifters are snuffed out. When darkness strikes her family, Tabitha receives a dangerous legacy. Soon the Riddler walks beside her, but is he on her side?

The more she searches for answers, the further into treachery she is led. The more she tries to flee, the harder she is hunted. And the more she sings the ancient Lifesong, the more the world begins to change.

Can she grasp her gift before the darkness captures the last of the light?

“In a darkening realm, which is better: the power to save your love, or to save your love from power?”

The Riddler’s Gift is full-length epic fantasy, over 650 pages in print: get it for free today and tomorrow only on Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk

 

Award-winning fantasy, suspense, horror and more on sale today

27 Aug

Eight award winners in the 2012 eFestival of Words “Best of the Independent eBook Awards” have reduced the prices of their award-winning novels to 99 cents for August 27 and 28th!

Whether you like to read mysteries, romance, horror, young adult, women’s fiction, or fantasy, this group has it. Are you a writer yourself? Do you want to learn all about digitally publishing your next masterpiece? They’ve got you covered there too.

——————– Award Winners ——————–

Best Mystery/Suspense: Dead is the New Black by Christine DeMaio-Rice

Best Non-Fiction: DIY/Self-Help: Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran

Best Horror: 61 A.D. by David McAfee
Best Romance: Deadly Obsession by Kristine Cayne

Best Young Adult: The Book of Lost Souls by Michelle Muto

Best Fantasy and Best NovelThe Black God’s War by Moses Siregar III

Best Chick Lit/Women’s LitCarpe Bead’em by Tonya Kappes

Award for Best TwistThe Survival of Thomas Ford by John A.A. Logan

———————————————————————-

Get all eight award-winning ebooks for $8 at  http://amzn.to/MO7qBY

Happy reading!

 

Scott F. Gray on Fantasy Collaboration

13 Aug

Endlands: Prayer For Dead Kings by Scott F. GrayScott Fitzgerald Gray has been flogging his imagination professionally since deciding he wanted to be a writer and abandoning any hope of a real career in about the fourth grade. That was the year that speculative fiction and fantasy kindled his voracious appetite for literary escapism and a love of roleplaying gaming that still drives his questionable creativity. In addition to his fantasy and speculative fiction writing, Scott has dabbled in feature film and television, was a finalist for the Jim Burt Screenwriting Prize from the Writers’ Guild of Canada, and currently consults and story edits on projects ranging from overly obscure indie-Canadian fare to Neill Blomkamp’s somewhat less-obscure “District 9” and the upcoming “Elysium.”

A Prayer for Dead Kings and Other Tales is the current centerpiece for the shared world mentioned in this post (the Endlands). Scott’s latest book is We Can Be Heroes.

More info on Scott and his work (some of it even occasionally truthful) can be found by reading between the lines at insaneangel.com.

Endlands

Writing has a reputation as a singular kind of pursuit. We writers are all supposed to be lonely, broken figures locked in our garret workspaces, blindly pursuing our personal muse while our families fret and pace in the drawing room downstairs. And while there’s a part of me that would love to live the life of an 18th-century literary cliche, I don’t fit that mold overly well. Because my creative process and my history of making a kind of living as a writer has been largely shaped around the idea of collaboration.

My writing career started out in Canadian film, where I worked in screenwriting for a number of years, made a pretty good living, and ultimately quit because none of the projects I actually cared about were getting made. But when you work as a screenwriter, you pretty quickly embrace the idea that screenwriting is a highly collaborative process. At its worst, screenwriting is the experience of having your ideas beaten down and second-guessed by people who can’t do what you do (but that’s a topic for a different post, probably). But at its best — which I’ve been fortunate enough to see a fair bit of — screenwriting is about a shared creative vision. It’s about making your own ideas stronger and sharper by the process of having other people add to them. It’s about recognizing specific limitations and having to focus the work to adapt to them. It’s about hearing other people’s ideas and riffing off those ideas to come up with ideas you never would have thought of on your own.

A lot of years later, I spend a lot of my time working in collaboration with a ton of other people as a freelance editor and occasional designer for the Dungeons & Dragons game. I write fantasy and speculative fiction, most of which takes place in a shared world of my own creation (the Endlands). There’s a lot to be said for the single-author worlds that all epic-fantasy fans are familiar with, from Middle Earth to Westeros to the lands of the Wheel of Time. But for me, the richness of some of the most memorable fantasy worlds owes itself to the collaborative process by which those worlds were built. The Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, and Eberron are shared worlds that most fantasy fans with a gaming background know of. Other literary examples include “Thieves’ World” and C.J. Cherryh’s “Merovingen Nights” books. And don’t forget what’s probably the grandfather of shared-world fantasy, the Hyborian Age — created by Robert E. Howard but vastly expanded upon by DeCamp and Carter, Roy Thomas, Kurt Busiek and Tim Truman, and many more.

For those who haven’t worked in a shared-world creative milieu, I think it’s easy to assume that it must be hard for a writer to feel good about having to give up some of the autonomy that creativity so often demands. But here’s a lame analogy. I know pretty much nothing about music, but the process of writing in a collaborative environment has always struck me as probably being something like what it feels like to play in a really great band. You as an individual might be great at what you do, but being able to riff off of the ideas and explorations of other people can take what you do to a whole new level. And in this lame analogy, the writer who absolutely can’t stand to have his or her work and ideas subjected to scrutiny, to suggestion, to the confines of history and culture that didn’t spring fully formed from his or her own mind is kind of like the lead guitarist who needs to constantly shred without worrying about what the rest of the band is doing. Or what song is even being played.

For me, there’s something special about worlds crafted through collaboration, because there’s something special about the process of collaboration — and of how that process sharpens, rather than dulls, individual creativity. RPG designers and shared-world authors work through a similar kind of process. All of those same things that are the best parts of screenwriting are wrapped up in the shared-world creative exchange that is game design and tie-in fiction — making your own ideas stronger and sharper, focusing in response to limitations, riffing off of other peoples’ creativity. In a screenwriting context, one has to balance the full scope of the imagination against writing within a production budget or having to make use of specific locations because those are the only locations available. In a shared-world writing, you balance all the things you could possibly do with existing canon and history — with the rules of the world as they’ve been laid down by the writers and designers who came before you.

There’s a great satisfaction in being the creator of pure ideas, for sure. But for me, there’s a different kind of equally great satisfaction that comes from being part of a process of ideas and creativity that’s greater than what I could accomplish on my own. And despite having the freedom as a writer and indie publisher to do whatever the hell I want with no input from or control by anyone else, I will happily continue to collaborate until the day I die.

 

 

Fantasy Book Review: The Kinshield Legacy

27 Jul

The Kinshield Legacy by KC May (Kindle Fantasy bestseller)starstarstarstar

If you’re looking for good entertainment that doesn’t expect you to invest heavily in setting up the fantasy world and conflict, something you can just pick up anytime and enjoy, then this is ideal.

It’s fast-paced heroic fantasy for the commuter hour, easy to digest with little to chew over, but that makes it delightfully unpretentious. Like the hero, Kinshield, it comes at you strong and fast, bashes your head and clangs your sword, engages you in a fight, then extends a generous hand to pick you up again. I had great fun!

What it lacks in grandeur it makes up for in cheerful indulgence in fantasy traditions: kings, prophesies, enchanted swords, ruffian knights, evil wizards and not-at-all-helpless damsels in distress. The writing is professional, action driven, with scheming and backstabbing aplenty.

The occasionaly intensely dark moments, although highly effective to characterise the villain, were disturbing and push the reading towards adult territory; most of the story is a tongue-in-cheek quest with a game-play feel.

Kinshield’s personal journey, his moments of compassion and his slowly revealed past offer a glimpse of May’s ability to empower her stories with more than swordplay. A writer to watch!