I’ve always loved genre fiction. When I was in middle school, my walls were lined with fantasy books of the most mundane sort–you know the kind. Sword fights, dragons, damsels-in-distress (and sometimes notso), and of course, the typical medieval, pseudo-Tolkien setting. When I set about my first serious attempts to write novels (more correctly, longer stories), they all had the bland faux-medieval England setting.
As I grew older, I began reading more varied books. High school came around, and with it, Bruce Alexander’s wonderful Sir John Fielding Mysteries. Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey/Maturin Series followed shortly thereafter. I had enjoyed historical fiction a great deal, but these books through me into the genre even more.
The two genres began to twist about in my head. What if the characters from my typical fantasy story got bumped up to the early or mid Victorian era? Neither of the series I mentioned take place in that era, but the idea of a hidden society in that stiff period could be interesting.
Which threw me into one of my favorite things to do. Research. I’m not being sardonic, I truly enjoy researching things. More on that in a later post.
Research in fantasy books (at least, amateur ones, and I’m certain some professional ones) is a rareity. We have this set idea of what stereotypical fantasy is in our mind, and we run with it. As a result, we get bland, typical stories.
Even though I am female, the “woman warrior” bothers me. Swords are heavy. Even just using a stage fighting sword for a couple of hours aches and those things are light. Archery isn’t easy (speaking from experience). And shooting multiple arrows at once like Legolas is never a good idea (speaking from observation). The arrows never go where they’re supposed to, and more than one arrow at a time can damage the bow.
Break free from the bonds of convention and have fun.