Right away let me say, “thank you,” to everyone who’s chosen to read my writing and to those who’ve chosen to follow my efforts on a regular basis. It’s always my hope that something positive will connect with each of you, intended or otherwise.
I’m taking a different tack with my blog here and will touch on my thinking process and that which has influenced my fantasy writing.
As a child (see also Yellow Brick Freedom) I wasn’t discouraged from reading, but I wasn’t heavily encouraged, either. My mother read little and my father read non-fiction if it pertained to a personal interest. I still remember the walks I took with him to the library when I was little. They’re fond memories and too few.
I also remember spending time with encyclopedia sets (remember those?) that became a playground for me. It was an exciting moment when I’d choose a volume to look through (“M” was always huge and not split like “S”!). I’d spend long hours paging through a single volume reading random articles. It was during those countless hours that my infatuation with history began.
My interest in fantasy came later. My mother never had an interest in fantasy, nor did my father, though he’d tolerate science fiction (he liked the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey).
My introduction to adult fantasy came, well, a long while back. I was in my mid teens when my sister gave me The Lord of the Rings as a gift. For some reason I don’t remember if I read The Hobbit at that time or had read it earlier. Anyway, it was a dark time in my life, but reading that story was the highlight of that summer. Rather then it almost seems real it was I can’t believe this isn’t real.
I won’t go into agonizing detail about Tolkien’s tale, for many fantasy writers have already analyzed his work. Too, this isn’t a literary critique. Instead, I’ll restrict my examination to the elements that influenced me the most.
Middle Earth was vast, expansive, and, yes, epic. The land was seamless and the geography made sense. To my eyes the mountains stood before travelers, not for dramatic purposes, but because (this is important) they were always there (that’s how real it felt). Too, forget background, his world had a history! The information contained in the third volume’s second half was an encyclopedia for my imagination. Oh, and the maps! I’m a visual person and as a child would stare at maps. In my head those squiggly lines became roads in Google Earth Street View long before personal computers.
For some reason that ability to turn 2D into 3D in my head deserted me when I took geometry in high school.
Those were the major attractions for me. You can’t deny the genius of a man who develops an elf language, even if I don’t understand it. Without a doubt Tolkien was a groundbreaker and deserves his status as the grandfather of fantasy.
No work is perfect and certainly every examination is subjective. Next week I’ll touch on what didn’t work for me. I always welcome comments and am interested in what worked for others when they read Lord of the Rings.