Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Fantasy and poetry

I love poetry that accompanies fantasy; in my opinion, it adds so much soul and atmosphere to the story. Consider Tolkien's Lament for Boromir or all the Elvish songs; or the funny songs of the Hogwarts Sorting Hat, or The Last of the Giants in ASoIaF.

Below is a poem I composed for my latest project, a fantasy book called Tales of Silverbell Wood, which is currently in progress and being greatly enjoyed by an eager audience of two children aged 7 and 5 (with a toddler clamoring to join). It is called Joar's Hall.

The mead in Joar’s Hall will flow
When storms are raging down below,
And when the mountain caps are white
We’ll be all snug and warm at night.

A weary traveler’s retreat,
A place to share some bread and meat –
Be welcome, guests of Joar’s Hall!
There’s food and featherbeds for all.

O friendly keep! Thy lights do shine
And speak of times to rest and dine.
The winds may blow, the snow may fall –
It’s always safe in Joar’s Hall.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Following literary trends

On many boards, blogs and websites I've read the same message over and over: "post-apocalyptic/dystopian fiction is out. The market is saturated. Novels in this genre stand no chance of being published right now." Which is kind of depressing, because my most recently completed novel, Wild Children, happens to be a post-apocalyptic dystopia. It doesn't feature zombies or deadly viruses that turn human brain into banana pudding (simply watching TV will do that), but still.

Sure enough, after sending out about two dozen queries, so far I've had only one request for a partial. So perhaps there isn't much interest. That's too bad, because I'm currently working on the sequel, and it's discouraging when you know you're working on something that's unlikely to sell.

But you know what? I know I didn't write Wild Children because I wanted to ride out a literary trend/catch the wave of success/whatever. I wrote it because an idea grabbed me and wouldn't let go. I remember I read an item about China's enforced birth control policy, and thought, What would happen if this practice was implemented in the Western World? I sat there and imagined the heartbreak, the corruption, the injustice, the families torn apart. Then I remembered the Biblical story of the Israelites in Egypt, Pharaoh's death decree to every newborn male, and the bravery of Jochebed in giving birth to, hiding, and eventually letting go of her son, in the hope of a brighter future for him and all her people.

It all fused together, to re-emerge as the story of Benjamin Grey, a boy who supposedly had no right to live. And, for all it's worth, I'm happy with the result and not sorry that I wrote Wild Children. Maybe it won't sell right now; maybe it will have to wait in the drawer for several years, until the market again experiences an upsurge of interest in dystopia.

Still, I can only write what appeals to me. I can't force myself to be inspired by what's currently "hot"; so I'll write what I like and cross my fingers.