First off, congratulations to all the character who won awards! You obviously did something right to receive such a prestigious gift. I can't wait to see how next year turns out! (Fingers crossed in hopes that I can help host it.)
Now, for what I had really wanted to share today. It involves lots of my tale as a writer, so I hope that's all right with you guys. I remember back when I was finally old enough to graduate from the juvenile section at my local library. I was allowed to wander the aisles dominated by teen fiction and read "older kid" books. Now, when I read books for the younger audience, I read comedies, mysteries, adventure, etc. But when I started teen novels, I was drawn to one genre in particular: fantasy.
I started off on series like Dragons in Our Midst and The Door Within. While I did read other genres, fantasy was the one I always returned to. In fact, since July of 2013 (when I started keeping track of virtually all of the books I read), I have read 49 fantasy novels out of 157 recorded books--which means fantasy comprises 31% of the books I've read. One-third is actually a fairly strong percentage, when you think about it. And more of those novels have been in recent years.
I would not be surprised if Bryan Davis and Wayne Thomas Batson were inspired by Tolkien's popular works of fantasy, particularly The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. These books not only changed the realm of fantasy stories, but also the writing world as a whole. We would probably not be where we are today if Tolkien never penned his immensely popular books.
I would not be where I am today were it not for Tolkien. He inspired authors such as Davis and Batson, who in turn inspired Tracey, and all three inspired me.
If you read my interview with Christine, you'll recall I mentioned I used to hate writing. However, when I started my own full-length project (of the fantasy genre), I grew to love writing. What changed?
Simple: my imagination was unleashed.
See, when I was younger, I did all sorts of imaginative things. I played stories with LEGO and with my sisters, I read, and a whole bunch of other creative things. Then, when I was given a school writing project, there were always limitations, always guidelines I had to follow. It was boring, because I could never really write what I truly wanted to.
Then, when I began my novel, I could choose everything. All of my ideas and imagination were funneled into that story. If I was a diver, then fantasy was my diving board. It was the perfect genre to launch me into the world of writing. There was nothing that held me back; I had the freedom to write what I loved. I think that's important for any writer: don't start by following the rules, but allow yourself to run wild. Then guide and hone your craft via the established rules. (Hmm, this could be an interesting post to write someday.)
After that story, it all changed. I would never be the same. I fell in love with composing tales of heroics and relatable characters and adventure and organic moral themes. The title of this post says that fantasy shaped my writing, but I believe I can take it a step further.
Fantasy shaped my world, and I'm so much the better for it.
I know this is a short post, but I think I'll end it here. I've said all I feel needs to be said. In the meantime, let's celebrate together the birth of fantasy as we know it today.
Do you remember your first step into fantasy's domain? Is it your favorite genre? How has it shaped your writing? Should we officially declare fantasy the best genre of all time? (You'd get a hearty "Amen!" from me.)