Approaching the Writer’s Craft and the Fantasy Novel
People have been led to believe that writing – as opposed to almost any other profession with the possible exception of painting pictures – is somehow magical. According to most sources – most of which are my fellow writers – writing is ‘inspired’, it takes endless amounts of time (possibly augmented with alcohol, pot, insanity, or some other outside stimuli) to ‘get in the mood’ or to ‘be inspired’. Playwright George Bernard Shaw once said of the Victorian romantic poet, Algernon Swinburn, “Algernon could only write once he had found his muse; unfortunately Algernon’s muse lived at the bottom of the second bottle of port”. Seriously, folks, this is all a lot of propaganda put out by writers to make their job look somehow magical.
There is nothing magical about writing. Being a writer is a job just like any other skilled trade or profession; you have learn your craft through a lot of study and hard work and you have to practice for years to get it right. Obviously it helps if you have a real flair for storytelling, in the same way that the difference between being a good cook and a great chef is having a built-in affinity for creative cooking. But both the competent cook and the great chef had to start out learning how to boil water.
If writing is not magical it is certainly mythical – at least in the way non-writers seem to imagine it. People think writers can work when they want, take endless vacations lying under palm trees and drinking tall, cool Cervesa beer. Wrong. Writing is done in private and if you are not a self-starter who can spend days and weeks on end shut off from the world you will never be a serious writer.
Writing is lonely, generally badly paid and most people who know them think writers are more than a little ‘weird’, but the fact is I write because I love writing. I enjoy writing more than I enjoy anything else I have ever done. Where else can you invent a world, or an entire reality, of your own choosing and then sculpt it and mold it – along with all of the people in it - into whatever shape you want? The only other place I am aware of that you can shape your own reality is during a psychotic break from reality and while writing probably won’t ever make me rich it does pay a lot better than insanity.
While writing is a serious undertaking, the writer’s work need not be serious in tone – indeed, if you are writing fantasy it is my humble opinion that your characters should never take themselves too seriously. The characters in a fantasy novel probably don’t have much to say that is really important to life in general, so they need to have the capacity to laugh at themselves and the absurdity of their world. At least, that is my view of fantasy literature.
I am not going to name names of those who suffer from the malady of over-serious fantasies, because that would look like sour grapes, but in my humble opinion any writer who dips into the vast and fun-filled well of fantasy and can’t find a few jokes has probably had their funny bone surgically removed. Fantasy is GREAT. It is just designed to poke fun at itself and the whole real world on which it is based. I think my three favorite living fantasy novelists are Terry Pratchett, author of endless dozens of DiscWorld novels, and the less known but just as weird Christopher Moore, author of such mind bending wonders as ‘Practical Demonkeeping’ and ‘Lust Lizard of Melancholy Cove’ and Malcolm Pryce author of some of the weirdest Welsh fantasies ever to crawl out of a human mind. These guys, along with dozens of other contemporary fantasy writers, really know how to have fun.
I have tried to bring this sense of fun to my latest novel ‘Revelations: book one of The Merlin Chronicles’. Sure, there are times of serious peril, desperate situations, more adventure than you can shake a stick at; and in the person of Morgana leFay we have a wonderfully vile baddy that you will just love to hate; but more than anything this is a book about having fun. Real life, particularly in today’s politically, economically and environmentally uncertain world doesn’t offer a lot of chuckles so we all need somewhere to hide from the ugliness and enjoy a ripping good yarn with a few good laughs. Today’s prescription to overcome reality-induced melancholy: Read two chapters of ‘Revelations: book one of The Merlin Chronicles’ tonight and call me in the morning.
Merlin the Magician has returned to the world to resume his fight against the forces of darkness and chaos. -
That’s right, less than a month ago on Dec 12, 2012‘Revelations: Book One of The Merlin Chronicles’ was released by Sunbury Press – and what a release it has been: orders from individual readers and bookstores have started to skyrocket and Sunbury’s shipping department is keeping the UPS man busy. eBooks by the hundreds have already been uploaded to ‘e’ readers and computers. We know for certain that electronic versions of Merlin have already reached readers in places as far-flung as Spain and Israel.
To all of the online reviewers and webmasters who have been helping us promote the sly old wizard’s return (and those who will do so in the future), we want to extend a very special thank you. While we don’t want to slight anybody by mentioning some names and not others, we've added a few links below so you can find Merlin there also. To all the rest of you great reviewers, readers, tweeters and Merlin followers who been busy over the holidays, we are extending our invitation to you to jump on the bandwagon now as it seems The Merlin Chronicles: Revelations (Book l) is going to exceed all expectations, and we'll be releasing Book ll even sooner than we thought due to demand. If you haven’t yet read and reviewed ‘Revelations: Book One of The Merlin Chronicles’, for heaven’s sake, what are you waiting for? Now's the time to jump in on the forefront of this new Fantasy series sensation...
Award-winning author Daniel Diehl has created a sensation with his highly anticipated new fantasy series The Merlin Chronicles. A seamless blend of Arthurian legend, biblical prophecy, classic wizard fantasy and contemporary urban fantasy that never takes itself too seriously, this refreshing new series creates a world exactly like ours -- except that Merlin and the age of magic have returned full-blast to battle ancient evils and save civilization.
In Revelations,the first book of The Merlin Chronicles, archeology student Jason Carpenter discovers a mysterious orb that has housed history's greatest wizard for 1,600 years. Forced into an uneasy alliance, Jason and Merlin are sucked into a web of deceit, intrigue, and murder in a race to outwit and outrun Merlin’s ancient nemesis, the evil sorceress Morgana LaFay, a gang of drug smugglers, and a 500-year-old Chinese necromancer. It’s a race against time to complete their quest before an army of dragons is unleashed on a vulnerable and unsuspecting 21stcentury world.
Daniel Diehl, author, writer and investigative historian, has over thirty years’ experience in his field. His canon of work includes twenty non-fiction books (translated into ten foreign languages) and scripts for more than one hundred and seventy hours of documentary television for A&E, Discovery, History Channel, History International and Biography networks.