Welcome to my first weekly blog! From now on, I’ll be blogging an article every Friday. Today I’m going to talk about why I write fantasy fiction and horror stories, so kick back and enjoy. I hope it’s a learning experience for you.
There’s something incredibly exciting about creating a world where anything can happen, and where you can feel free to express your ideas in an entirely symbolic way. Some people don’t understand the appeal of fantasy or horror, but that’s probably because they don’t understand the meaning of it. Once you understand it, fantasy is a magical place of hidden meanings waiting to be discovered and interpreted.
It is, of course, a little bit scary to divulge your innermost thoughts to complete strangers. However, I find it almost therapeutic to write about the world I see in my mind, and to express it creatively through the fantasy/horror genre. There is something about injecting the fantastical into writing that brings it to life. I think the magical feeling we get from fantasy is something we often miss as we leave childhood behind. Fantasy, I suppose, is an accepted way of allowing ourselves to enjoy those same feelings. It becomes less scary for me to express my thoughts and the reader is able to experience their fears or immaturity in a safe and mature environment.
One of the many things I love about writing is that I can include a message of some sort. Of course, you can do this with any kind of writing, but in fantasy and horror it is both subtle and profound. I love having a place where I can talk about real issues that concern me and show the possible outcomes. Writing is a hugely powerful medium – the pen is, indeed, mightier than the sword!
Admittedly, the journey of some of my stories makes uncomfortable reading. However, my stories address real fears that we all have & I always attempt to resolve the situation satisfactorily. That is not to say that I believe every story must end in a traditionally ‘happy’ way. I don’t. That’s not real life. What I do hope to show, though, is that even if an outcome is not what either the protagonist or the reader would have wanted, or wished for, that there is a silver lining if you think about it. I think this accurately reflects my own view of life. In other words, fantasy and horror allows me to take people to their deepest self, to their most petrifying fears and to their unfounded prejudices and it shows them what to do once they get there.
Fantasy writers have been described by some as ‘King’s Fools’, the only people to be permitted to speak the truth. Is there less need nowadays than in the past to have speakers of truth? Are we able to speak freely? Possibly. It depends where you live. Do we do anything about injustices, or do we see the terrible wrongs in the world, and yet do very little to change them? Do we simply turn our heads, and look the other way? What do we fear and why do we fear it?
What better way to express the idea of e.g. madness than through fantasy and horror? In “Sleepless” readers are introduced to a horrific character, Zoran, the general of a concentration camp, someone we can barely imagine to be human. But he is. He is very human. We probably often wonder how ‘those evil bastards’ sleep at night. Well, he doesn’t. He is tormented by his own demons, rather than being the monster himself. It is easy to demonise human beings based on their behaviour, but when the question was asked and experiments conducted after the horror of the Holocaust, it turns out most people would follow orders. In fact, most people would torture, under the right circumstances.
I’m interested in people, what makes them happy, what holds them back, what they fear, what they love and what they hate. As a pagan, classicist and hypnotherapist, I am aware that many people in today’s society miss out on a whole range of helpful concepts. Spirituality doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be religious. Defined as being related to the spirit or soul, I would go further and say that spiritual ideas have a great deal of influence on our mind too. I have always been interested in the positive psychology of spirituality and religion. In an age of scientific advancement, we are tending to move away from spiritual matters, but I do not believe the two things are mutually exclusive. I suppose that is why I am pagan. My beliefs allow for science. In all honesty, I cannot say whether I believe in God(s) or not, but regardless of what you believe, the gods exist in “Return of the Olympians” at least, and I hope you will find them as loveable characters as I do. I have found them to be useful in expressing certain concepts, and I think they bring the stories to life, adding a little bit of supernatural humour. Besides, I do genuinely respect what each of them stand for.
I am also greatly interested in Gothic Horror and allegorical storytelling which, of course, fantasy encompasses. I love that characters can be the visible mind, right there in front of you, to gaze at in horrified glory. As a youngster, I was completely fascinated by vampire and werewolf films. In truth, I have probably gained more from their visual storytelling than from reading about them. Metamorphosis is something that has fascinated humans since time began: that is, we can change physically, reflecting the horrific emotional changes one human being may experience, if so cursed. The idea that evil is entirely visible is perhaps a comfort to us, knowing that we can tell good from bad. The tragedy of the inevitable downfall of the monstrous leaves us with the comfort that, even if we felt sorry for their plight, it is better they were put out of their misery and mankind could sleep safely at night. What are these monsters we are so utterly terrified of, though? Mainly things like unpredictability, sexuality, aggression, mental illness, death, consumerism, nobility, scientific advancement and nature-tampering. These are all very ancient fears and superstitions that have been with us since the beginning of time. Monsters are the personifications of our fears, groundless or otherwise. They show that we are afraid of being eaten, having to give in to our own sexual desires, or those desires of others, being unable to control our inner rage or being sucked dry of life by the ruling classes. Locations are isolated, because there is danger when we are alone. We are constantly reminding ourselves, through the figurative monster, that we are vulnerable. Divided we fall, comrades.
I would like to think that there is something for everyone in my stories. I certainly try to write like that, rather than home in on a particular audience. My audience is human beings, and I write because I have something to say to them. Some will not understand, some may misunderstand but, like any writer, I have a message I would like to bring to the world and I will have done my job if you take something positive from that message.