Whilst a lot of people here at the DGLA committee are writers, I’m a reader, or perhaps more accurately a serial reader. In short, I love to spend hours curled up with a good book and will slay my way through titles to get my fix of adventure, thrills and chills and the odd bit of romance.
Each genre has something different to offer and depending on your mood can affect how you react to what you read. Differing ones serves their own purpose but if you were to have a camera in my home, the odds are you’d find me engaged with my favourite genre, fantasy.
Why? Well to be honest there are two reasons for this. Firstly I feel that it’s the closest genre to our ancestors, who gathered round campfires to tell stories of the old days and the heroes who have gone before and secondly, and perhaps no less importantly, I have to blame my Dad. He generated a love of reading within me that was almost extinguished by what many term “the classics” that we all had to read in school.
For years I wondered why people read for pleasure and never understood why people could spend so long in a bookshop. That was of course until I was introduced to my first adult fantasy title. I was 11, I was off school with Mumps and my Dad handed me Legend by David Gemmell. I remember feeling very grown up and loved having something to share with him. I devoured it in a couple of days and since then have rarely been without a book in my hand and loved to discuss a great many of them with my father such as who our favourite authors are etc (he’s a staunch Tolkienite whereas I’m more an Abercrombiean these days. In fact Joe, if you’re reading this you owe me a few beers for defending your honour. LOL)
Fantasy, whichever sub category you go for has so much to offer but there are key themes that run though that attract me and could well be the same for you.
I love a story that takes me away from this reality to one of adventure, of higher morals and of course mystique where anything can and possibly will happen where what I term, the Spirit of Man is a key element as each character faces their own personal struggles against adversity as well as doing their best to the last breath where lesser men/women would have given up and surrendered. Yes often it’s a pyrrhic victory but it is one that whilst it may not be well known in the world concerned gives us all a beacon to aim for and thus promoting our own higher ideals against the evils we see in everyday life.
Each year, I trek thousands of leagues on horseback, march my way across the deserts and fight my way side by side with a myriad of characters and find myself surprised at what is released. From established favourites to new authors who surprise me with not only the sheer scope but at the magic’s that they have at hand to thrill me. This is one reason why I love the fact that the DGLA has the Morningstar Award to show that new talent is clawing its way to the forefront to capture your imagination with their own innovations demonstrating that the genre is a living breathing beast that whilst it occasionally slumbers, is one to be feared when roused.
Of course fantasy has its downside such as heroes who are too powerful. You know the ones, they walk into an ambush, surrounded by a legion and yet, somehow manage to walk out unscathed with the enemy either magically blitzed or just plain carrion chunks. These get to me as I like a touch of reality that has crept in with some of the more recent offering where authors play for keeps, such as GRRM’s Song of Fire and Ice where you got that twist at the end of the first novel, the hero that we all expected to do so much suddenly brought low so quickly. Yes it was a shock but one that demonstrates that life is fickle as are the gods.
All in all whilst we may have moved on from the campfires we all still have a primitive element to our psyches that loves to hear the old stories as well as new and with writing, we all have the chance to get to know those characters who in future years can be as real to the listener as someone on the news or in another country. That’s the magic of writing, it transports, it fascinates and above all else it’s something that brings us closer to remember all that’s gone before.
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