The Silent and Brave revision page #103
Today I am examining my choice to write a series of fantasy novels, rather than something more “adult” and literary. Can there be literary meaning and importance in fantasy?
I think my first goal as a novelist was to write a story that was pure and simple on the face of it, a real-life story with real-life characters. That was Chivalry, and it was born of my college experiences and experiences to that point in life. I reread it last year and I think it’s wonderful. I’m glad I wrote it and I’m glad it turned out the way it did. I think it fulfilled those expectations, and I would still love to publish it if I could find a willing publisher.
Now a lot of time has passed. I wrote a second novel, about a sailing trip to the Bahamas, called King’s Highway. That is also based on college experiences, and it has some good parts but is much less satisfying to me than Chivalry. My plan is to eventually rewrite it as a thriller, taking up the levels of violence and intrigue, because I think that would make it more interesting to an agent, especially as I look around at blogs and websites, and see what agents are looking for in today’s publishing climate.
I began a third book, called A Man Like Me, intended to be literary and personal and great and all of those things that an author would want in his work. I finished what I wanted to with it, and again there are some good parts, and again there are a lot more that need work. Again, I hope someday to return to it, and finish it to my satisfaction. It has all my “real” characters in it, and I want to tell what happens to them.
Then Kim and I had our hard times, with having children. I have mentioned it before, how this made me want to create a character who couldn’t be hurt in any way, and that was the genesis of the champion, and my return to fantasy, that I have always loved, all my life. And now this is the story I want to tell, my science fantasy, about the wards of the pallbearers and the future of mankind.
I don’t know exactly why it has caught me so hard and kept me interested. It is very hard, inventing a world. First I have to believe in it. Then I have to convince others to believe in it too. That seems astronomically difficult. But I love magical realism. I love Salman Rushdie and Garcia Marquez. I love that idea, that there is a little bit of the unexplained in life. I was up on the mountain yesterday, singing “Toyland” to myself, a Christmas song, and believe me, I am a white middle class kid, Christmas is all about fantasy. It is that idea that “once you pass its borders you can never go home again . . .” And to me that is fantasy. The older I get, the more I realize that life is just very difficult, and hard, and dirty, and that any bit of romance I can hold on to is so important, because we spend all of our days with the real. Any imagination we can keep, any innocence of childhood is vital to our happiness. Yes, we should dream of other worlds, because daily life is bearing down on all of us.
Now I look around, and find that there is not a lot of romance left. Stories are being recycled for movies, and the real world only titilates when there is action or murder added to it. Why shouldn’t I write a story about good people trying to do good things? One thing that people still read is fantasy, so, if I’m so interested in it, why shouldn’t I write it? I don’t know if I can do it better, but I’m going to keep trying. I don’t want to pass the borders yet, and let the real world take me down. I want to live in a magical world, with my magical, beautiful wife, and my magical friends, and believe that I can still find a storybook ending, by writing one for myself. I intend to believe that until the end of my days.