Long have I sought that distant land beyond the horizon. Always it was there in my mind, yet just out of reach.
And then I arrived, for I’d been there all along.
Such was my search for the fantasy world I wanted to depict, that I wanted to share with others who desired experiencing a land never before imagined. It wasn’t that I envisioned a place where people floated upside down and chickens spoke Latin. Rather, I longed for a place where I’d sit on the porch, observe, and then tell everyone about it.
Like many fantasy writers I was first inspired when I read Tolkien’s work, but authors in many genres influenced me like Orwell, Bradbury, Dickens, and Stewart. Still, in the land of fantasy Tolkien was “it” and my younger self thought a Middle Earth world was what I wanted.
Of course, then I allowed life to get in the way.
In the meantime other fantasy writers arrived on the scene, some better than others, and many further revisiting or expanding on the fantasy model that he popularized: the Medieval setting, dragons, and especially elves. When I started writing seriously I too wished to build upon what he had done.
It wasn’t to be.
Over time I realized the fit wasn’t right, my minor diversions from his path eventually adding up to a road running in the opposite direction. Tolkien’s background was ancient myths and so it’s easy to see where his writing was a natural extension of that which he was passionate about. That wasn’t my background at all.
My background was a potpourri of genres, from fantasy to adventure to mystery to horror to history. Though never a huge television fan, I did grow-up, thanks to my mother, in an environment rich with old movies. Thus, my initial exposure to the Victorian Era came via films like Gaslight and characters like Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper. Mysteries produced in later decades also loomed large, films like The Maltese Falcon, Laura, and the Thin Man films.
”What if” questions haunted me.
- What if mammoths and sabertooth cats and neanderthals had survived?
- What if, as occurred similarly when Rome fell, an advanced industrial society based in magic and akin to Metropolis collapsed and a different kind of Dark Ages followed?
- What if those who dwelt in the forests moved with stealth and were twice as deadly?
What if I could find a way to assemble a working fantasy tale from the jumbled madness tumbling around in my head?
Yes, what if…?
It took a long time, but I came to realize I was not the next Tolkien or any other great author who came before me. Instead, I’m different and coming to terms with that fact. I’m exploring the new world I envisioned and that makes me true to me and that’s all I can ask for as a writer. Am I any good? Only time will tell. I may die broke and homeless, but if along the way I’m able to bring pleasure to someone via my tales that will have been enough.
That is what has begun to unfold, not spun by a master seamstress, but instead by the least likely of writers, one who crawled from beneath the ashes that where her epitaph.
I leave confused, I leave drowning, but I hold tight to mu sanity, such as I know it.