So today in the god realm of Odealeous, we have the fantasy bestseller Daniel Arenson. Author of Song of Dragons. Funny thing. He writes about dragons and dragons are the gods in the world of Odealeous.
1. As a fantasy author how do you see the genre evolving? Traditionally, fantasy novels are long. Back in the 90s, most fantasy novels on my bookshelf were massive “doorstoppers” of 1,000 pages. I think that, with the popularity of ebooks, we’re seeing a trend of long series with shorter volumes. The series are still as long and complex, but instead of a 1,000 page novel every couple years, we’re seeing shorter, more affordable installments released close together. We might eventually see a return to telling long fantasy stories as serials: many short (100-200 page) installments a couple months apart, selling for only a couple dollars an episode.
2. Do you think that authors such as Tolkien and Rowling took a religious beating and open the doors for fantasy authors such as you?
Professor Tolkien essentially created this genre. The way Chuck Berry is the granddaddy of rock n roll, Tolkien is the granddaddy of fantasy. Even works like Harry Potter can trace their way back to Tolkien’s influences.
3. Do you go Larping? No… thought I’d be curious to see a LARP game sometime, even just from the sidelines.
4. Psychologically speaking, Why do you think people read fantasy?
I think fantasy does two, seemingly contradictory things: provides escapism and teaches resilience. Most fantasy stories are about struggles: a hero battling an evil dragon, a peaceful nation facing an invading horde, and so on. Good fantasy is often about facing hardship and overcoming it. The Lord of the Rings is great escape from modern life—we get to spend time in a world of wizards, hobbits, swords, horses, sweeping landscape, and magic. But it’s also very much about our modern life, about facing adversity head on. Fantasy can help you escape from hardship, but also teach you to face it.
5. Do you think fantasy authors have a psychic ability to see into other worlds? We daydream onto the page. I think fantasy authors (and readers) have the ability to create and believe in fantasy worlds as vivid as our real world.
6. George RR Martin says that the worlds of fantasy are written in the language of dreams. How would you say you write fantasy. What is the first step you take in to writing it? I start with conflict. To me, that’s the root of the story. The hero must be in deep trouble and desperate to solve his or her problem. The pillar of the story, holding everything else together, is the hero’s intense struggle. Everything else—the fantasy world of wonderful sights, creatures, cultures, and more—is woven around that.
7. Do you think that a lot of fantasy whether if its books or movies and shows, do you think that it is getting more and more violent and sexual? A Game of Thrones popularized a darker, grittier type of fantasy, fantasy that doesn’t shy away from the violence and sex and profanity. There’s still plenty of clean fantasy, of course, but now it’s more acceptable for fantasy literature to show the reality of life too.
8. Do you think scifi is more popular than fantasy or are they equal? For a long time, science fiction languished. The genre reached its golden age in the 1950s and 1960s, with authors like Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, Damon Knight, Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert, and many more writing profound and important classics of the genre. Then, for a long time, science fiction seemed to fade away; there were a handful of breakout novels, but the golden age seemed to have ended. In the past couple years, though, I’m seeing a huge resurgence of science fiction. Indie ebook authors are suddenly writing science fiction, only recently considered a tiny niche genre, and hitting bestsellers lists. This is fantastic, since I personally love reading and writing the genre.
9. I have been exploring the topic of sex thanks to Game of Thrones. What is your outlook on sex in fantasy stories?
Even though A Game of Thrones is set in a fantasy world, that world is very similar to Earth in medieval times, and it tries to show us the reality of life. I’m a huge, huge fan of The Lord of the Rings, but I understand that those books aren’t necessarily an accurate portrayal of our world—they’re about myths and legends. A Game of Thrones is about showing us a hyper-realistic world, and that includes violence, sex, and all those things other works might shy away from. The Hobbits never had sex, and battles in The Lord of the Rings never included blood or guts; that type of fantasy is meant to feel like an epic poem, like mythology brought to life. With works such as A Song of Ice and Fire, we’re meant to feel like we’re observing real history, real life, and of course, real life includes things like violence, sex, bathroom breaks, profanity, and all those things you wouldn’t see in a traditional mythological fantasy
10. Do you put yourself in your books? If so then how? I don’t, though I know that some authors have given themselves cameos in their worlds. For example. Roger Zelazny actually had himself, as the author, appear in his Chronicles of Amber series. I just try to create interesting characters struggling against near-impossible odds, but I don’t – at least not consciously – include myself.
11. What is your favorite author so far? I really can’t say, since there are too many. I can say, though, that I started reading fantasy 25 years ago thanks to Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman who wrote the Dragonlance novels.
12. What is your favorite movie and why? If I had to choose one, I’d choose The Return of the King. It’s a perfect example of how powerful fantasy can be and why I choose to write it. The movie has the heart, the complexity, the epic battles, and the spectacle to elevate fantasy to something immensely powerful and deeply moving.
13. You could be any fictional character in any movie, who would it be and why? I’d be one of the background hobbits, just living in a comfortable little hole and staying out of trouble. That sounds perfect.
14. What would you tell people out there who want to write fantasy? Write and have fun! Also, if you’re interested, I’ve written some fantasy tips on my website: http://DanielArenson.com/FantasyWritingTips.aspx
So that was Daniel Arenson Everyone. Author of Song of Dragons and Dragonwar. Check out his books and follow his links below.