THE MISSING LINK
Today I was guilty of committing an un-natural act. I found myself in the Fantasy section of my local library, which was not only un-natural, but downright scary. I gazed at shelf after interminable shelf, mesmerised by little yellow dots on thousands of spines the titles of which had mostly to do with dragons and mazes and quests. Can there truly be this many fantasy writers in the world all writing the same plots? How do they all make a living? Silly question, really. There must be money in it. There wouldn’t be this many people doing it, otherwise. As with any other genre, however, I reckoned some fantasy writers might be better than others and so I set out on my own quest to find one. I flicked through the pages of a few examples. Please, there has to be one.
I gave myself an imaginary slap on the side of the head and forced myself to focus. Get a plan of procedure, Arrowhead. That’s my blog name, and for the first time I was wondering why I’d chosen it. It sounds suspiciously like something a fantasy writer might choose. Have you noticed how many names beginning with ‘A’ feature in fantasy writing? I killed the thought and concentrated on my action plan. First, I selected a few titles that didn’t actually turn my stomach. Next, I read the blurbs on the inside front cover flap. Any mention of Merlin, or witches or vampires, and it went straight back on the shelf. I read the lists of ‘also written by’. If the author had written in other genres I was encouraged sufficiently to read the first page and if that piqued my interest I was prepared to wade through the rest of it. And that’s another thing; apparently it’s obligatory for fantasy fiction to be heavier than an old fashioned mobile phone and four times larger.
I reminded myself why I was doing this. It had been brought to my notice that the only fantasy I had ever read was the Narnia series – and that was only because I was reading it to my children. I grew out of fairy stories by the time I was six, was bored rigid by Greek mythology, and never had I seen more than the first 15 minutes in several attempts to watch ‘The Wizard of Oz’. It was suggested I might be missing a link in the writer’s chain of command of language and genre.
But just two books met my initial selection criteria before my brain fogged and my eyes glazed. I’m sure there could have been more, but I’d lost the will to live. I carried home ‘Awakening’ from the Hyddenworld series by William Horwood and ‘The Mystery of Grace’ by Charles De Lint, who is the ‘master of urban fantasy’ according to the back cover. I might need a stiff brandy to get started on either of them.