Fantasy worlds: “A strange hooded figure came to my door … “

Cover… and offered me writing skills, in exchange for a piece of my soul “ and that, apparently, is how Garth Nix got started writing fantasy.  He says.  We are not sure we believe him, and the other authors on the panel at the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival this afternoon also look a little startled by this – their answers to the question of how each of them began their writing careers were a little different from Garth’s. 

Elizabeth Knox grew up creating fantasy worlds with her sisters, Cassandra Clare simply wrote what she wanted to read, and Margo Lanagan’s was a pragmatic decision to move to fantasy because she wanted to sell more books than she had been. 

I was really looking forward to this session, and wasn’t disappointed.  Entitled Fantasy: Freedom all round, and chaired by Paula Morris, it was crammed full of discussion about everything from ‘adult’ book covers, to themes of social commentary, genre snobbery, escapism versus reality, plotters versus pantsers*, urban exploration and shadow cities, and how fantasy writing is simply a socially acceptable form of lying (Garth Nix again – this man is seriously funny.  Also, I think he might lie a lot). 

As always with sessions where there is a panel of people, it’s impossible to fully share what everyone said about everything.  And so I will say again what I have said a lot this weekend – find the books, search the web, read up on all these guys, and then come find me and we can talk glorious genre fiction like total fantasy nerds!

* as in flying by the seat of your …

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