Monday, November 3, 2008

Tropical Fantasy Vs Medieval Fantasy


Rowena here.

Actually, this is where I am, on a sandy beach under a summer sky.

I'm writing a fantasy called 'Adrift on the Shallow Sea'. And this is one of the desk-tops I'm using on my computer to inspire me.

The book is a step away from the usual medieval fantasy. Mind you, I grew up in sub-tropical Australia which is a long way from England and its history.

I saw snow once, when I was 11. It was cold and wet and I didn't like it.

I grew up swimming in the surf, going out on our boat, fishing, wandering over sand-dune islands and chasing soldier crabs across pristine beaches as the sun came up. I have no trouble imagining what it is like to dive for food, or fight the current to get to shore. I know what it feels like to get dumped by a wave and stung by a blue-bottle (jelly fish).

So I've set my new fantasy series on the back of a giant turtle (nod to Terry Pratchett). The turtle is roughly the size of Australia and it swims in a figure eight from one pole to the other, across the equator. This is what gives the inhabitants of the Shallow Sea their seasons. It may sound idyllic but the Shallow Sea is a cruel place. There are very few islands so the people fight for a toe-hold, boat-nomads raid floating trade-isles, and the sea is filled with wondrous beasties. The world and its privations shape the people and their society.

I've been coming back to the Shallow Sea for several years, selling short stories set on it. So the world and its societies have grown organically.

Will people want to read a fantasy about a world where Sea-monkeys raid floating gardens and Penitents travel on paddle steamers to venerate Lord Turtle, where spring storm surges flood palaces and Denizens live on boats, never to set foot on dry land? I don't know.

But it doesn't matter because I'm having fun writing it. The people, their problems and their world fascinate me. I'm hoping readers will find it fascinating too.

Back to the Shallow Sea for me. :->

Cheers, Rowena

6 comments:

John Lambshead said...

What a brilliantly creative idea! I will most certainly buy it.
John
PS Location, location, location :)

Dave Freer said...

Well, I would certainly buy it too, partly because you wrote it:-), partly because I can identify with the world, and partly because Jack Vance's BLUE WORLD was my first SF (age 8, IIRC) which remains one of my favorite books.

Pati Nagle said...

Sounds like great fun, Rowena!

Mike said...

Sounds like a great setting. But if I can make a tweak here . . .

When you ask, "Will people want to read a fantasy about a world where Sea-monkeys raid floating gardens and Penitents travel on paddle steamers to venerate Lord Turtle, where spring storm surges flood palaces and Denizens live on boats, never to set foot on dry land? I don't know."

As it stands, I suspect the answer should be a resounding no. BUT if you were to ask, "Will people want to read a fantasy about characters living in a world . . ." then the answer would be an equally exuberant YES.

Which might be a good point for the mad geniuses to yack about, how do you balance character, plot, and setting while writing?

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Hi Mike,

You are quite right. Yes the story is what happens to the people and their struggle.

For me, Story is King.


Cheers, R

Astrid Cooper said...

I would buy it too. I read anything (any genre!) that is well-written, with powerful characters and evocative settings -- especially ones not done to death. Praise to Rowena for 'pushing the boundaries' in her setting -- it sounds "fascinating" to quote a well-known pointed-eared character.
Achieving a balance between what the market expects, can take and what the writer's vision for his/her world is -- that's difficult. I'm doing that now (when I finish writing this comment) -- in my latest book. Rowena said she is having fun writing the story. This is what it must be -- authors having fun writing. If the author isn't having fun, I think that shows in the writing and if the author isn't having fun writing it, is a reader going to have fun reading it? Having posted a comment which is probably useless, I must return to my book and the characters left in limbo while I digress. Astrid Cooper