For my next blog or several, I’m going to go into some details about my writing process: how does the story go from an idea in my head to a published book in your hands?
I call it “my writing process” because every author works differently to put a story together, and of course, the process will vary depending on what sort of book they are writing. For my historical fiction works, I do a WHOLE LOT more research than I have done for my historical fantasy Dragon’s Fire Series, for example, but my fantasy books are a lot more fun to write! In fact, I’ve never had more fun writing than I’m having right now while producing this series of books. So in my next few blogs, I’m going to focus on my process of creating the historical fantasies you are currently enjoying reading, starting with the genre and the “why” of it all.
What’s historical fantasy? Good question. I only found that out myself after I had finished these books.
What genre my stories were was bugging me as I wrote them. I don’t write to fit into a box anymore; I write what I write for me, and I don’t really care if my work matches someone else’s concept of what fiction should be. However, for marketing purposes, for competitions, for agent submissions, for reader convenience, the books needed to fit into a genre.
The Dragon’s Fire Series spans a whole gamut of genres. We might include them in fantasy, historical fiction, romance, adventure, myths and legends; any and all of these categories fit the books to some degree. However, they were too fantasy to be historical fiction, with their made-up setting and elements of magic, and too historical to be hard-core, sword and sorcery fantasy. While they all have a thread of romance running through them, the main problem in the book is not who the heroine is going to marry, or how many studly heroes she beds on her way to the altar, so they don’t qualify as make-you-swoon-in-your-seat Harlequin-style heart-throbbers, either. They’re adventures, but not Indiana Jones. They’re myths, but they’re realistic as well. In fact, all the elements of “fantasy” within the Dragon’s Fire Series are rooted in science and then exaggerated.
See my dilemma?
For a while, I was stumped. And then I found the definition of historical fantasy: a category of fantasy blended with historical fiction that includes fantastic elements such as magic into the narrative. Historical fantasy comprises Arthurian, Celtic, and Dark Ages tales, often with plots loosely based on mythology and legends.
Found it! This sounded like the Dragon’s Fire Series, so I promptly dumped the books into that category, and pride myself on the fact that, while the stories fit there, they are entirely unique, and like nothing else you’ve ever read.
So now I had a genre, I could continue writing in the comfortable knowledge that I had found a suitable box for my work. If it didn’t fit perfectly, at least it had a label that would suffice for the aforementioned agents, judges, and readers.
So now we know where the stories fit, why on earth am I doing this? Spending hours daily in front of a computer screen, spinning tales and then editing and rewriting and polishing and formatting, and all the other stuff I’m going to get into in later blogs?
Because I love it.
I have loved writing since I was six years old. No one ever had to force me to do it. I was one of the few kids who didn’t groan when the teacher announced a creative writing assignment, and I was sought after like a celebrity for group writing assignments, even if the other kids didn’t include me in much else. I produced my first hand-written novel, over 150 pages long, at the age of eleven—all for my own pleasure, and nothing to do with school.
I don’t write for money, although I will never turn down a royalty cheque. I believe that a writer deserves to be paid for their creativity and effort, and the pleasure that they give to others. Unfortunately, writing is unlikely to produce a fair hourly wage for any but a very select few. The Dragon’s Fire Series is not making me rich. At least, not yet. But that doesn’t matter because I want to share my stories with people; the money is a bonus. Books by an unknown author do not fly off the shelves with thrilling regularity. It takes time and a lot of hard work to earn readers. (Tell your friends about my books!)
Whether I ever make money at this or not, I’m still going to write. It’s my entertainment, my release, my passion, my therapy. Writing is my prize at the end of the day; I get my work done so that I can sit with the computer for an hour or two and write stories. Can’t stop. Won’t stop. Love it.
Next time: the spark!