I’ve read Fantasy since a very young age and one of the wonderful discoveries of my young reading days was the series. Fantasy writing involves a lot of world building and setting up ‘rules’ of the society, but more importantly, the reader as well as the writer often falls in love with an imaginary world and a series allows both to continue to visit these Fantasy realms in our imagination.
Some of my early loves were Anne McCaffrey’s Pern and Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Darkover. I was fascinated by the laws of Physics and how they were gently warped in Roger Zelazny’s Amber. Some worlds were less of a joy to visit, such as the challenging worlds conquered by Michael Moorcock’s Eternal Champion series heroes and the prison world of the Deathgate Cycle by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. Even these worlds embraced the fantastic and stretched the imagination into the far reaches of possibility. The seedy streets of Thieves World and the subculture of vampires in Anne Rice’s novels that began with Interview With the Vampire allowed the reader to adventure in dark and dangerous realms from the safety of their favourite reading chair.
I first became a published writer in the old traditional way in the 1980’s, but I was writing in a non-fiction genre and there was a part of me that always wanted to write in my own Fantasy world. I made an attempt once or twice to formulate an imaginary world and found that it couldn’t be forced. I had written a lot of fiction in high school, but as much as my Mind, Body, Spirit books flowed easily, my inspirations for fiction had become fragmented during many years of my life when I was travelling a lot and experiencing different aspects of real life.
It was something from real life that eventually sparked the seed of a new Fantasy realm. George Bush II was about to be re-elected *cough* and I had dipped my toe into activist groups in an attempt to start a worldwide protest movement that would reflect the atmosphere of 1969. I found that modern activist groups mostly worked separately and each had their own agenda, so co-ordinating anything after the effects of the ‘me’ generation of the 1980’s was effectively impossible. While contemplating how things should be rather than how they are, a line of dialogue entered my mind.
“We are not like you. We do not glory in having power over our own kind. Or imagining that we do.” ~Haghuf, Dance of the Goblins
It wasn’t something that a human was likely to say to another human, so in my mind the speaker became a goblin and suddenly an idea for a whole society, a Shamanistic subculture of goblins was born. Ten minutes later I was busy scribbling and when I stopped, chapter one was finished. I threw in some magicians for the goblins to interact with and they took over as the ruling class and suddenly, a whole new Fantasy world had effectively laid itself out for me.
During the course of writing the first book, the second and third books became notes files. There were things I wanted to follow up in subsequent generations, but I decided I would definitely stop at three. A series that goes on too long can weigh heavy on a reader. As much as I enjoyed Deathgate Cycle, I was very anxious for it to finish in the last few books. However, Darkover and Anne Rice’s Vampire books had transcended the sequential series by expanding through stand alone books. These worlds can be dipped in and out of without any need for sequence. My answer to this was to work towards a book of short stories related to my goblin world, Meat For the Storytelling. At this stage I have story notes to fill two volumes, but the stories that have been released to date can be read at http://jaqdhawkins.wordpress.com/.
When I finish ten of them, I will bundle them into the first collection and offer it at minimal price. How long it will go one to further volumes will be decided by the goblins. As long as I still have need to visit their world, the short stories will make a convenient arena to fill in pieces of back story or new adventures that reveal more detail about the societies that make up the series.
If you are writing about a Fantasy world, don’t feel that you have to put everything into a first book. Let it unfold in stages so that both you and your readers can enjoy the thrill of discovery at every point along the way. To build a world begins with a basic landscape and a few rules. The rest will fall into place as you write. Once you have established your own world, side novels or stories can go on for as long as someone, especially the writer, wants to return just one more time to experience this special realm of your imagination.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. If you like it let me know and share it with others. See you next time, Toi Thomas. #thetoiboxofwords