Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Author That Opened Doors to New Worlds!

Book 8: The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay

                The only fantasy novels I was introduced to growing up were Mercedes Lackey and Dungeons and Dragons, at least these were what my friends read, and I didn’t like any of them. It caused me to have the impression that there was nothing much of interest there for me.
                Then one day during a writing workshop, the instructor suggested that the next book we buy be one from a genre that we would normally not read. In the bargain bin at the grocery store the next day I found the book ‘The Lions of Al-Rassan’, bought it, read it, loved it, shelved it, and never thought much more about it for a long time. I enjoyed the book but it didn’t really inspire me to become a fantasy lover.
                A few months later my new brother-in-law lent me a book and told me that I would love it, it was the Fionavar Tapestry again by Guy Gavriel Kay. I devoured this book and went looking for more, since then Kay has become a favorite of mine and I’ve read all his books, even the poetry ones, and am eagerly waiting the day someone decides to make a movie out of one of them.
                That second exposure to his work was the kicker for me and once I read through all his books I went looking for more, spending hours wandering the fantasy shelves because I still had some doubts and wasn’t ready to commit to long series like Robert Jordan’s, but I wanted the magic, the mystery and the love, I had found in the other fantasy books.
                I bought a few anthologies of various authors and went from there, opening up a wonderful world full of many other wonderful worlds of fantasy. Yes eventually I read Tolkien too, even went past the Ring tales and into his other works as well.
                As much as I loved the books it still took me some time to fully embrace writing fantasy and how much freedom there was to it. For me fantasy and horror fell in together and my stories tend to reflect that a little bit.
                I only have one of my works that is totally fantasy and takes place in a fantasy world but I bring it back to tie in to my horror works. I just can’t seem to make that leap fully into the fantasy genre in my own writing but I can still appreciate the intricate and wonderful worlds these people have created and shared with us.
                I would, obviously, recommend Guy Gavriel Kay’s books to anyone but I also challenge anyone and everyone to go pick up a book in a genre you don’t like, you never know what surprises lie in store for you there.
                At least once a year I pick up a book that at first doesn’t appeal to me and I have yet to be disappointed, it is an adventure out of the norm – for me anyways!


  1. I think that's an excellent challenge--read outside your genre. It's beneficial as both a reader and a writer. It's always fun to discover new writers (or new writers to you). Anthologies are a great way to find new writers, I've found many authors that way.

  2. Nice post Akeyla,
    Reading outside your comfort zone (or rather genre of choice I should say) is something that will teach a writer as many lessons as a reader. There will be different tricks used and whilst osme of the themes within will remain for personal interest the way things are done can throw you for a loop.

    I love reading so I'm usually found with my nose in a book (as my Sky planner will attest, LOL.) Thats a good thing as the chance to explore new worlds, to ride the dogs of war in many worlds as well as to see history with new eyes, can definitely give you some food for thought.

    Another thing that I would recommend for writers to do is to pick up some of the ladies magazines. For example in the UK, Take a Break. There's puzzles to exercise the old brain (plus you can in prizes) theres some coffee break fiction and of course the stories of interest about real people. These tend to get the writer in you asking questions and looking at the various possibilities of scenarios.

    For example, one article that I read had a woman, whose boyfriend was ill so she went to the shop, buy some cat food and be kidnapped literally on her doorstep to be a sex slave for a couple of months. Now it turns out the lady in question was an ex drug addict who had worked on the "game" to pay for her fix, and her boyfriend didn't report her missing (even though she escaped in another county) as he thought she'd left her.

    This then had me think through possible scenario's:
    1) The men recognised her from her time as a prostitute and thought that she'd be an ideal candidate for what they had in mind.

    2) Being an ex drug addict, her other half either was one or just coming off (explaining the illness) who "sold" her to either pay off a debt or to obtain more of his substance of choice, also explains why he didn't report her missing.

    3) She'd owed someone from her drug days who'd "sold" the debt on to another party (or gave it to them to get out of trouble.) Hence why they wanted to use her for a limited time.

    Whilst all these options are possibilities no one will ever really know the full story but as a writer, I asked the questions and tried to make a straight line to make it work. Its a good thing and reading other genres will too. Next time you're on a fantasy kick, perhaps read Legend by David Gemmell, its his first book and was written when he was awaiting test results for Cancer. Whilst it's not as polished as his later work, it has a rawness that really appeals to readers and its still one of my favorites years after reading.

    Have fun.

  3. I firmly believe that there is no better author out there than Guy Gavriel Kay. This is absolutely one of my all-time favourite books, and possibly my favourite book ever.

  4. honestly, I've never heard of it, so thanks! :) I'll have to check it out.

  5. I bought three books on Wednesday while browsing at a used bookstore: Stephen King's "Bag of Bones," Louis L'Amour's "Sackett Brand," and Patricia Briggs's "Moon Called." I firmly agree that reading across genres is extremely valuable and very stimulating as well as a way to cross-pollinate ideas. Right now in my stack of books to be read, I have titles by Vardis Fisher, Thomas Berger, Maggie Stiefvater, Julius Caesar, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jack Finney, Tim Lebbon, Robert McCammon, Richard Matheson, Philip Wylie, and Greg Egan (just to glance down the main ones. Most of my favorite books have been accidental discoveries because I picked up the right book at the right time.

  6. I think it's a great idea to challenge yourself as a reader, and try different authors and genre's than your norm. It can only enrich your own creativity when you write.

    I was intrigued that you hadn't ever felt comfortable completely crossing over into the fantasy genre. For me it's the opposite. I started writing a high fantasy piece last year, and when that ran out of steam I switched to something set completely in our reality. What I haven't got to work yet is a cross between the two, something which is very common in writing today. Maybe one day... I put it down to my scientific background. :-)

  7. T. James - you might even have an advantage in doing such a blend. Remember that Michael Crichton was an M.D. and Terry Brooks an attorney. Greg Egan has a degree in mathematics. Heinlein did aeronautical engineering, Azimov had a PhD in biochemistry. Even Kevin Grevioux who played the werewolf "Raze" in the first "Underworld" film - which he co-wrote and created the underlying ideas for - has degrees in microbiology and genetic engineering.

    So I'd definitely say your road has quite a bit of precedent that shows an advantage for such a background mixed with your interests!

  8. One post that you might want to do is how your reading tastes have changed over the last few year. You'll be surprised.