Friday 9 November 2012

Roots of a Writer?

I'm feeling like some fantasy right now after months of gritty crime stuff. Time, I think, to go back to where I started, maybe?

I used to edit British Fantasy Society publications. Lots of them. For a long, long time. The BFS website used to have pages of covers from past publications (all lovingly scanned in by us oldies who have huge collections going back to the year dot) and a store where you could buy them. When I went to look for them for this blog post, those pages no longer seem to exist, which is a shame as they are not only part of BFS history, but also had some amazing artwork commissioned for the covers, and the books launched (or played a part in launching) the careers of many of the fantasy and horror writers around today. The delightful Nina Allan even mentioned me in her interview in the BFS’ latest journal – things like that make all the hard work worthwhile.

But there used to be an occasional column called Roots of a Writer, where different authors gave their take on writing and how they started out. It was interesting to read what inspired their love of fantasy fiction and what made them start writing it.

So my own personal roots began at university when the small paperback library was obviously stocked by fantasy fans and I devoured such things as Stephen Donaldson and other doorstep trilogies whose names I forget now. I’d grown up reading Heinlein and Wyndham, so it was an easy transition into the fantastic. Then I met a guy called Sean – we were never boy-and-girlfriend, but I can say that apart from my husband (and father/brother of course), he was probably the most influential male in my life as he introduced me to the whole fantasy sub-genre – all the books and the people who loved them. The wargames crowd at university, D&D, live role-playing and everything that fired my imagination from there on in and made me the person I am today. From there it was a simple step into the British Fantasy Society, where I was deeply involved for many years.

I read and write a lot more mainstream now. Since the BFS has aligned more to the darker side of fantasy and horror these days, I have less in common with it, although I remain a member. But I do still write fantasy. I have an almost-completed sequel to YA Edge of Dreams which I think I might go back to, and an adult fantasy I started writing with input from an editor at Orion many years ago. What do you think?


Anonymous said...

It was when my son was a teenager that I started reading fantasy. I'm not sure whether there was much about when I was a teenager - I consumed Sci-fi instead, sometimes horror (which I couldn't stand now)
The size of those books of fantasy and that they always seem to come in series shows that it is quite untrue that young people cannot maintain concentration on a lengthy book.

An interesting post, Debbie
from Marj

Debbie Bennett said...

There were classics when I was teenager - but there was none of the YA stuff that's around now. In fact I don't think there were any teenage books beyond Nancy Drew, which is why I started writing my first novel at 14!