Today, I bring you a guest post by fantasy author Susana Imaginário. Susana describes herself as a misfit from Portugal. She moved to England to pursue a career as an aerialist and now runs a Board Gaming retreat in Ireland with her husband, and their extremely spoiled dog. Her hobbies include reading, playing board games, hanging upside down, poking around ancient ruins, talking to trees, and being tired. Her debut novel, 'Wyrd Gods', combines mythological fantasy with science fiction and psychology, in a strange way.
Hi! My name is Susana Imaginário and I write slipstream fantasy with a dash of mythology.
First, I'd like to thank Hayley Walsh for inviting me to be a guest on her blog. Still, I can’t help feeling like I crashed the wrong party.
Usually whenever I say I write fantasy to authors who don't, I get a 'oh' in reply and that's pretty much the end of the conversation, so I was at a loss about what to write to a crowd who doesn't (mainly) read fantasy.
I read through previous guest posts and they seemed to be mostly about the authors and their writing journey. My writing journey so far has been short and not particularly exciting, I'm afraid. And my life… Well, let's just say one reason I write fantasy is so I won't have to write about 'real' life, especially my own.
Hayley suggested a post about self-publishing, but even though I have two (soon to be three!) books published independently, I still have no idea what I'm doing and frankly, I don't think I'm doing it right most of the time. I could definitely compile a list of things 'not to do' but I'll spare you that boring read. Besides, what doesn't work for one author or genre sometimes works well for another. I’d rather leave that particular can of worms sealed.
Instead, I thought it would be more entertaining to write about something every writer can relate to, such as storytelling in fantasy.
‘Fiction is the lie that tells the truth.’ Neil Gaiman.
In fantasy there’re no limitations to the lies we can tell, and through them, the harshest truths. I only write fantasy, as far removed from the real world as possible, but I read a bit of everything. Good stories can be found in all genres, and I love to discover new styles and ways to tell them.
People sometimes refer to fantasy as childish or nonsensical. And sure, there's a lot of that out there, but fantasy is timeless. It fuels the imagination and feeds the soul. The first stories were lessons, cautionary tales about the Universe and human nature featuring gods and monsters in impossible realms.
Many myths are still as relevant and engaging today as they were thousands of years ago. We own fairy tales, super heroes and religion to the trials, tribulations and machinations of the gods of old brought to life by the imagination of those trying to make sense of the world.
I find this fascinating and strive to achieve a similar level of thought-provoking awe in my work.
The reason I write mythological fantasy is not just to promote escapism, but also for the opportunity to take a step back and see reality through a fresh perspective.
In fantasy, it's not only the world that needs to be fantastical, but also the characters.
It's hard to write a good story without good characters, and creating a memorable character in fantasy is both easier, and harder than in fiction. On one hand, you can create literally any character. For example, in my books I have centaurs, wraiths, gods, and trees as characters. But on the other hand, the reader has to be able to identity with them. Getting the reader into their shoes, or roots as the case may be, and make them care is one of the most challenging and exciting aspects of writing fantasy.
Think about the number of people you’ve met in your life. How many of them do you remember clearly? And how many of those have you found interesting? What about fictional characters? Personally, I can name a lot more interesting fictional characters than real ones. This doesn’t mean the people I meet are not interesting, just that I probably never got to known them very well. Their lives and thoughts have not been laid out to me on the page in memorable contexts. Readers have the privilege of getting to know the characters in a story in great detail. So it’s up to the author to make them as interesting and memorable as possible. It might be cheating, but characters like gods and monsters raging battles across the Universe do tend to stick in our minds.
On a more personal level, sometimes it’s easier to address emotions and inner struggles using fantastical characters in outlandish worlds. That way anyone can relate to them by filling in the blanks.
Another perk of writing fantasy is that it blends well with all other genres. You can have a thriller set in Avalon, or a romance across different realms. It can be lighthearted and dark, action-packed and introspective all at once. The worlds can be as bizarre as an underground forest or as mundane as a wardrobe. And you can even add magic! Playing with magic systems is as close to being a wizard as one gets in the real world. I recommend always keeping one toe in common sense, though. Plot holes tend to increase exponentially whenever magic is involved.
Thank you all for reading my ramble. If you read this far, congratulations! You're amazing.
Consider buying one or more of my books. They are quite entertaining, if nothing else.
Thanks to Susana for sharing both her passion for fantasy, and her sense of humour with us. If you would like to check out her work, click on the links below.