Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Thanks to Gemmell and Feist

These books would not exist without two of fantasy’s top writers – David Gemmell and Raymond E Feist.
Like most teenagers, I had read Tolkein and thought fantasy consisted of endless description, long passages of verse in other languages and a healthy dose of elves, dwarves and orcs. While I enjoyed it, I had no plans to read more.
Then a mate of mine presented me with David Gemmell’s first novel, Legend, and insisted I read it, over my protestations.
Long story short, I read it, enjoyed it so much that I have every one of Gemmell’s novels and began to read fantasy – Eddings, Brooks, Feist and more.
I loved the gritty, realistic fantasy, as well as fantasy with great characters and intricate plots. Gemmell had begun a fascination with fantasy, opened the door into that genre for me.
I tried to write my own fantasy – plots were no problem but characters were and I had zero success in interesting people with them.
Flash forward a few years and I was – like so many others – a frustrated writer, while working as the editor of the Hornsby Advocate, a paper serving the far north of Sydney.
I had no more plans to write fantasy but was trying to write a contemporary Australian novel – and getting nowhere.
HarperCollins (one of those quirks of fate/destiny/whatever) brought out Raymond E Feist for his Talon Of The Silver Hawk tour. Feist was one of my favourites and I lobbied to get him to visit Borders at Hornsby, where I could interview him.
Success! I met him at Starbucks and spent a fascinating 45 minutes chatting to him – so much so that the publicist had to call a halt to our interview!
But I had enough time to talk to him about writing, and we discussed how he works through his books, how his characters sometimes take him off into subplots or on entire arcs that he never imagined when he sat down to write.
As he put it, he knew the characters have to get from A to Z – but they don’t go via B, C, D, E etc etc. They might begin that way, then jump to M, N, before darting back to J.
I listened, fascinated. For that was exactly the way I like to write.
Inspired, thinking that I was, unwittingly, emulating Feist, I began work on fantasy once more.
Seven years later, The Wounded Guardian will be on the shelves.
Incidentally, after I signed the contract, I tracked down Mr Feist. He was generous enough to reply to my email.
It said, in part:
Don't go blaming me, mate, if you got the storytelling bug. And if you somehow manage to get rich and famous doing this, it's not my fault!
Anyway, continued success to you and if I played even a small part in motivating you to live your dream, thanks for letting me know.

So thanks to Mr Gemmell and Mr Feist, I am about to become a published author!

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