Just a quick note that my essay on the 1988 Nicholas Cage flick “Vampire’s Kiss” is now available in the anthology STRANGE BLOOD edited by Vanessa Morgan.
If you’re a vampire movie fan, it’s a great collection of 71 deep cuts. There are some familiar “main stream” movies, but a lot of it is really weird, obscure, and vamp adjacent stuff. It’s a very cool collection featuring some great writers and movie critics, and I’m glad to be a part of it.
I’ve been slowly grinding out a fantasy/horror novel over the past year, and I have a whole new respect for authors of the genre.
I’ve always loved fantasy novels, especially the “sword&sorcery” sub-genre, but they are definitely outside my wheelhouse when it comes to writing. I stick almost exclusively to horror and weird speculative stories, but I wanted to venture outside my comfort-zone and dip my toes in the shimmering magical pool.
Here’s a few things I’ve learned.
World Building Sucks
“Sucks” might be kind of a strong word for it, but I find it frustrating. Sure, it’s really cool stretching your imagination to create all these fantastical places and things, but it’s also REALLY difficult! There are supernatural elements in horror, but they are often limited, and can be put into real world settings, like New Mexico or something. I vastly underestimated the amount of time and effort that goes into fantasy world building. Now I get why so many books rely on variations of time-tested tropes.
Names, Places, Names, and more Names…plus Dragons?
How do fantasy writers keep track of all this stuff? Character names, places, and magic systems. The number of things you need to record is mind-numbing. All novels require some level of research, but the nature of fantasy usually requires deep backstories, complex interactions between entire races, and “systems”. For the most part, other genres can safely assume things like gravity and physics are a given. Even Science fiction (at least the good kind) is grounded against certain rules, that provide a baseline to start against. TL;DR – If you write a fantasy novel, buy extra notebooks and Post-It’s.
Being Original is Difficult
Creating an original idea in 2017 is tough no matter what you write. We all have influences that shape our voice. Fantasy cliches and tropes are especially easy to spot though. As soon as “Orcs” or “Orks” show up, you’re already ripping off Tolkien. Kids who use magic? You might be treading on Harry Potter’s toes. The wide berth of stories and subjects in just the last five decades speak to both the popularity of the genre, along with the extraordinary challenges inherent in coming up with something unique.
I’m determined to finish my fantasy book, because I love the characters and the story, but my expectations have certainly been adjusted since I started the first draft. I have a newfound respect for fantasy novels and the people who write them.
So it’s not technically “new” (I’m late to the party on my own work being released), but I’m excited to let you all know I had a non-fiction piece published.
My critical essay on the SyFy Original movie Sharknado was published in the anthology When Animals Attack: The 70 Best Horror Movies with Killer Animals (Moonlight Creek Publishing).
I’m really proud to be a part of this compilation, and Vanessa Morgan (the editor) did a great job bringing together horror movie fans to create a truly definitive guide. If you’re a lover of horror films (especially in this sub-genre) I cannot recommend it enough.
The book is available for purchase on Amazon and if you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber you can download it in eBook format for free.
I’d like to thank Vanessa for reaching out to me and having me participate in such a fun project.
We’ve been humbled by the great feedback and reviews the book has been receiving, and are looking to spread the word to a wider audience. If you’re a fan of B-Movies and over-the-top action, DETROIT 2020 might just be your cup of tea.
If you love exploding mutants, put it on your Kindle and tell a friend!