Monday, September 29, 2014

Cover Reveal - Jack of Troubles

With by book due out on Friday, I think it is about time to reveal the cover. This one has taken a while because I have gone through several ideas, only to come back to one that is close to the original concept. A patient cover artist is a good thing. Once I settled on this layout, it was a matter of getting it done and tweaked. As it features a pivotal scene form later in the book, I won't say much about what is going on, just that this is the perfect cover.

Get it on Friday from Amazon.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

The Fantasy Genre

I can't help thinking that Game of Thrones (the TV series) is going to herald the comeback of epic fantasy in a big way. I really appreciate the large wave of urban fantasy that has dominated the fantasy genre in a big way for the past decade, but my heart is really with epic fantasy.

The fantasy genre was not born with J.R.R. Tolkien, but I would say that he breathed new life into it. Something like that has to happen from time to time to keep things fresh. For a long while, The Lord of the Rings WAS fantasy to many people. It formed the basis for Dungeons and Dragons (with some tweaks to avoid copyright infringement) and hence all the works derived from it.

But it has never been the full genre. There has always been room for other types of supernatural stories, particularly those based on legends like Merlin and Dracula. In fact those are the tropes of pretty much all of the fantasy genre as a whole. It is the setting which distinguishes the subgenres.

I would say the most classic subgenre takes history and adds myths, legends, and magic. The Arthurian tales are the classic example. The works of Mary Stewart and Stephen R. Lawhead are prime examples. This has gone by many labels over the years, including High Fantasy or Historical Fantasy.

The next that I find is what would be termed Urban Fantasy. Bram Stoker's Dracula is an excellent (though more to the horror side) early example. It was set in the present (when it was written) and features vampires and other creatures. This type of story has become very common, with most revolving around vampires (Sookie Stackhouse series, Twilight series) and a few (like Carrie Vaughn's Kitty Norville series) centering on werewolves. As a rule these mix ancient beings of legend into the modern day.

The last big one is Epic Fantasy. Rather than a journey to the past or bringing creatures of legend to the present, it resets everything to another world, a world where anything is possible. Legends, folklore, myths, dreams, and nightmares all can find a place. It gets the name epic from the scale of the conflict as much as from the scale of the books. This kind comes in two forms, either wholly in the other world, or using people from our world transported to the other world. In either case, the stakes for the world (or at least the nation in question in this other world) are huge. Often the supreme evil is nearly all powerful and little can be done to stop them, except by our heroes. J.R.R. Tolkien, Terry Brooks, Terry Goodkind, Carol Berg, Mark Lawrence, Robert Jordan, George R.R. Martin and many others have lifted this subgenre to an art form, often with books as big as the stories they tell. In most genres, a 100,000 word novel is long. In Epic Fantasy that is unusually short, with most exceeding 150,000 words if not 200,000. And they often come in series of three or more books. This gives the writers many pages to play with different characters and different aspects of the story.

If you can't tell, I much prefer Epic Fantasy other subgenres. I find the scale of the world building draws me in and the breath of characters makes the adventures more enthralling. So this is what I write. I do not look down on the other subgenres, I just prefer this one. I have always enjoyed reading it and now I very much enjoy writing it. It is not the entirety of the genre, in fact it has been much neglected in recent years. I am hoping it makes a comeback as viewers of Game of Thrones turn to books and look for things in the same vein to immerse themselves in.