I’m hosting a guest post today for a tour for fantasy novel “Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales”. I’ll leave the word to author A.C. Birdsong now!
Two Simple Rules for Writing Fantasy
I have just two personal rules about writing fantasy. First, it’s not my fantasy I’m writing. It’s my reader’s. Second, see rule number one.
Most lovers of the genre we know as Fantasy assume the use of magic and magical creatures are critical parts of any book that purports to be a fantasy. I count myself among them.
Sure, all fiction books are a fantasy of sorts. You are writing something that hasn’t happened, usually about people who never existed. The distinguishing difference is that in a non-fantasy your story is constrained to the laws of reality (or at least a likely future reality, as with science fiction). In a true fantasy, you are freed from this restriction.
This doesn’t mean that no rules apply, which is why I say it’s not my fantasy. You owe it to your reader to contrain your story to some rules, at least at the beginning. Wizards know magic. Witches gather in covens. Looking directly at a Gorgons will turn you to stone.
You can change these rules as you go along, as long as you prepare the reader for it after the story takes off. A magical virus has stripped all Wizards of their magical powers. The International Witches Union has successfully bargained for a coven size of 11. Medusa has angered Zeus, who takes his wrath out on all Gorgons – instead of turning people to stone, people are only turned into avid bowlers.
What’s great about this is that as long as you don’t break that simple contract with your reader, everything else is open. That’s why fanstasy can be truly fun to write. And because no other rules apply, you can bring hard reality into your story, something I did with Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales. In the book, the magical interaction between two wizards is tempered by the everyday relationships between the ordinary people who are affected by the magical goings on. Keeping careful track of which rules are currently in play allows the different story lines to weave seamlessly.
So just two simple rules – it’s not my fantasy I’m writing, it’s my reader’s and see rule number one help keep me and the story in line.
Author: A.C. Birdsong
On a small farm just outside of a tiny town lives Jacob, the last in a long line of Caretakers of Magic. His mission in life as the world’s only magician (in fact the only person who knows magic is possible) is to preserve magical skill in preparation for the day when magic is needed in the world. Other than what is required to train an apprentice, Caretakers aren’t to be practitioners, a tenet Jacob adheres to religiously.
Jacob has been teaching an apprentice, Palmer, for eight years. As a student, Palmer is a dismal failure, but this does not stop him from experimenting. Feeling that the pace of his instruction is unnecessarily slow, Palmer takes the little magic he knows, twists it, and uses it to trap Jacob and a young neighbor Lucy inside an old book of fairy tales (The Tall, Thick Book of Tales). Palmer refuses to release them unless Jacob imparts all magical knowledge to him in an instantaneous way.
From the moment of Jacob’s entrapment, Birdsong creates three interwoven storylines: Palmer’s dealings with the townspeople, who are searching for Lucy and quickly suspect Palmer for her disappearance; Jacob’s journey to escape, which takes him through scenes written into the book by Palmer, designed to harass Jacob and to speed his compliance along; and Lucy’s interaction with the book’s original characters, all magical themselves, trapped within the margins by Palmer’s spell, and are united in their desire to expel the intruders. Added to this mix are an enchanted bookworm and the fairy tales’ narrator, who have objectives of their own.
Readers will enjoy Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales. Birdsong skillfully mixes the real and the imaginary worlds with a lean and fast-paced style. A well-crafted and fun novel with colorful characters and great dialogue written for any fan of adult fiction, and suitable for young adults and older adolescents as well.
A.C. Birdsong wrote the first draft of Inside the Tall, Thick Book of Tales during an unseasonably cold winter in Athens, Greece. “I spent all my time either writing the story or searching for a reasonably warm and cheap place to write it. Often this left me huddled near tepid steam heaters in dingy hotel rooms, and drinking endless cups of weak Nes to fight the cold. Eventually the weather turned, which was not only fortunate for me, but for Jacob and Palmer as well, because they probably would still be fighting it out inside that book otherwise.”
A.C. lives in Seattle, where people voluntarily allow themselves to be trapped in books on a regular basis. This is his first novel.