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An Interview about Spellwright & my Contemplations Fantastic

Check out my first interview as a debut author!

Aidan Moher and his uber-slick SFF blog, A Dribble of Ink, showed up on my radar last summer and since then ADoI has become one of my favorite blogs. It’s got all the current genre news, great presentation of the latest cover art, thoughtful reviews, and wonderful interviews (a recent one such with Jesse Bullington was laugh-out-loud funny). Aidan’s criticisms are always well-informed and thoughtful (even when they’re directed at, say, one of my covers). If you’re curious about what’s happening in Speculative Fiction, it the place to be on the internet.

That’s why I was thrilled with Aidan asked me to do a interview about SPELLWRIGHT, writing fantasy, and the state of SFF today. We passed the online interview back and forth for about a month. It grew to +6,500 words, and I’m very proud of it. I’ll paste a few of my favorite lines below, but please hop over to the blog for the full interview (and pass the word if you’re keen).

Everyone’s heard the imperative “Write about what you know.” Or sometimes, “Write about what you love.” Personally, I think if you obey only those two commandments, you’ll end up with warm mush. A love-in. I would add the third commandment: “Write about what you fear.”

Fantasy saved me. It gave me back my sense of wonder with the world. It transformed me from an angry disabled kid looking for trouble into a big nerd who loved literature and science.

By itself, no elaborate magic system or speculative technology or intricate plot or any other intellectually derived element can make a story worthy of readerly devotion. A book series does well not because it is unique, but because it has a genuine voice and true emotion.

When I read Margret Atwood’s quotation “Science fiction is rockets, chemicals and talking squids in outer space,” (The Guardian, 28 January 2009) and then again when I read Sven Birkets’ statement that “science fiction will never be Literature with a capital ‘L’” (New York Times, 18 May, 2003) I had to vomit a little in my mouth and then swallow it…If you believe that there’s absolutely no literature in science fiction or fantasy or young adult fiction or chick-lit or another genre, then you are worse than snobbish, you’re slightly bigoted.

[Regarding bald jokes] Mostly, I recommend a doctrine of preemption. If you mock your gloss before they do, you win. Extra points for self-aggrandizement. Along this line: “God made a few perfect heads; on the rest, he put hair.” Or “Grass doesn’t grow on a busy road.” Double extra points for a façade of humility. For example, if someone says you’ve done something less than perfectly, rub the dome and sheepishly say that you’ll practice so that next time you “won’t have a hair out of place.”


2 Responses to “An Interview about Spellwright & my Contemplations Fantastic”

  • Finally got around to reading the interview and I’m glad I did. You always have much to say, Mr. Charlton. I’m looking forward to reading Spellwright even more than I was before.

    Regarding literary, excuse me Literary, acceptance of SFF, I think the genre is better off without it. With acceptance comes writers writing for the critics, something SFF has been blessedly free of for the most part. Writing with critics in mind equals stagnation and death. Just look at the current state of Literature. Steinbeck, Hemingway, and Faulkner it ain’t.

  • You know, SSF is my favorite genre, but I don’t think it’s literature. I’ve taken literature courses and learned what makes fiction literary as opposed to commercial, and I just can’t imagine how an SFF novel could be literature. It can make darn good commercial fiction, though (the best, IMHO). But literature is written to be literary, isn’t it? And commercial fiction is written to be commercial fiction. Neither is better than the other; they’re just different. And SFF belongs part of the latter category. That’s not a bad thing at all. Anyway, that’s just the impression I’ve gotten from the literature classes I’ve taken.

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