So this year it was off to sunny Brighton once again for FantasyCon, another excellent opportunity to immerse oneself in the publishing industry and catch up with the latest and best in genre fiction. If you haven’t been before I highly recommend this opportunity to meet fellow writers, publishers and editors, gain a stack of industry insight and motivation as well as having a good time.
For me the best panel this year was Fantasy Fiction: Keeping it Real? moderated by Adrian Tchaikovsky, with guests Brent Weeks, Jasper Kent, Juliet McKenna and Benedict Jacka. The panel examined the balance of the reality vs. the fantastic in fantasy fiction and looked at how far the author needs to go to make their fantasy landscape seem real.
The ever-entertaining Brent Weeks, who works in imagined worlds, said that the worldbuilding needs to ‘look’ real, so an examination of the world is necessary to explain any questions that may arise in the reader’s mind. Juliet McKenna, who also works in a secondary world, summed this up by saying the need is with the author to look at how things happen and why and ensure that the characters’ actions are plausible. Benedict Jacka said he decides on the rules of the world at the beginning of the project and later adds detail to make it believable. Weeks said that “like a magpie” he takes the best and shiniest bits of reality and puts them into his worlds to give them grounding.
The discussion went onto to discuss trends in the genre and in particular the shift towards more emotional realism in fantasy. From the mid-80s style that was ripe with character archetypes and often implausible or predictable characters, fantasy has evolved to a genre that focuses on more complex characters with greater psychological depth. They also discussed the widening of cultures represented within fantasy and the use of a broader scope of historical resources to shift away from the traditional medieval-based world.
This panel was rich in motivation for the aspiring writer and packed full of tips that may help beginning writers improve their craft, characters and fantasy worlds. It was a great way to start the day and gain insight into how established authors approach the writing of a new novel. It was definitely an inspirational start to the Saturday.
That’s about enough information for one blog. More from the convention to follow.