I don’t have unicorns on my t-shirts, crystals hanging from my rear-view mirror, fairies in my garden, or a bustle in my hedgerow. I really do watch Most Haunted for the old houses and castles, not the ghosts (which sounds like buying Playboy for the articles, but I swear it’s true.) I think that vampires are creepy cannibals, not sexy love-gods. And there’s nary a single hobbit or Harry Potter among my DVD’s.
There’s also no fantasy or paranormal elements in my books, either, and no matter what the omnipotent Publishing Market demands, I don’t see that changing. My poor characters have to muddle along like the rest of us lowly mortals, without magic, e.s.p., or the fear of getting hairy every full moon. It’s not that I have any deep philosophical objections to fantasy, or that I view witches, wizards, and vampires as a personal threat on religious grounds. Nothing so grand as that.
The sad truth is that I just . . . don’t . . . get it. Like people who are color-blind or tone-deaf, I was born without the woo-woo gene. Oh, I check my horoscope every day, and I’m willing to curse this particularly vile retrograde along with the rest of the world, but as the disclaimers always say, I do it for Entertainment Purposes Only. How Mary Jo and Susan/Sarah can put up with me is proof of just how good friends they are.
All of which makes Dragon Month here at the WordWenches something of a challenge to me. Yes, a good writer can breathe life into anything, and turn even a tea-cup into a character readers will never forget. I’m sure that given the gifted writers behind Dragon Lovers –– Wenches Jo and Mary Jo, and Honorary Wenches Barbara Samuel and Karen Harbaugh –– that Dragon Lovers will be an anthology that readers will devour, and I fervently hope for them that it lands them on the bestseller lists.
But dragons and moi? Dragons are reptiles. Really, really big and scary reptiles, with over-sized bat-wings, scales, claws, and fire-breathing capacities enough to scorch entire medieval villages. It sounds like a bad deal all around to me, like one of those pictures in National Geographic that you wished you hadn’t looked at after you did. No, thank you. My imagination just shuts down cold.
I’m in the minority, of course. J.K. Rowling’s proof enough of that. Publishing today loves all things paranormal and fantasy, and just as the historical romance world has narrowed its range, the more fantastical side of fiction has widened to the obvious delight of many readers. This is a good thing, too. I’m all for diversity in books. If there’s a book a writer wants to write and a reader wants to read, then it should be out there. The world would be a powerfully dull snoozerama if we all read and wrote exactly the same thing. End of story.
Well, not quite. I’m re-reading this now, and that opening disclaimer about me not being a Believer. I really should amend that. Because as a writer, I do Believe: I believe in characters and stories and the solemn agreement between subjects and predicates. I believe in history and love and heroes and heroines who do brave, wonderful, foolish things. I believe in writers trying their damnedest to get the story out of their heads and onto the page. I believe in imagination, and having the courage to go wherever it takes you.
Just please, please, please don’t ask me to write about dragons.
So what about you? Does fantasy make you fly, or are you a stick-in-the-mud realist like me? What do you think of the paranormal and fantasy trend?