Category Archives: writers

Top Ten Tuesday – 10 Reasons Fantasy Fiction is The Boss

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish


Ever since I can remember I’ve read fantasy or been told fantasy stories. When I was little, my Grandad kept my imagination stoked with tales about talking hedgehogs, wizards and old castles… Fantasy was branded into me and it’s something that’s stayed ever since.

I’ve read other genres, still do. But I always end up going back to fantasy and enjoying it more than anything else, whether that be sci-fi, action, thriller or mystery.

The fantasy genre is The Boss. Here is your proof if you don’t believe me…

1 – The normal world can be dull and boring and depressing. Fantasy worlds are not…

Unless you’re reading a George RR Martin novel, fantasy worlds are generally great places to escape to. Even Westeros has it’s good side… somewhere. When you want to get away from the real world, Hogwarts, Narnia, (post White Witch eternal winter, unless you like winter) The Shire, Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory (unless you’re a bad kid) are the perfect place to escape to.

2 – There is no impossible…

Most books in other genres are grounded in reality and the realms of possibility. In fantasy, the sky is pretty much the limit in what is possible. Quidditch, everlasting gobstoppers, flying giant peaches, camps for demigods… fantasy has everything you can think of and a billion things you can’t think of.

3 – You can be anything…

It might sound cheesy–nope, it does sound cheesy–but you can be anything you want in a fantasy novel. Reading through the eyes of a son of Poseidon, a kid who wins a golden ticket, a boy who discovers he’s a wizard. You can even be an animal. Fantasy lets us be someone else for a little while as well as letting us go somewhere else for a little while.

4 – Good fuel for writer brains (and non-writer brains–all brains)… (brains looks weird typed so many times)

If you’re a writer, you’re constantly looking for things to inspire your own writing. It can be a word, a character, a world, anything, but the best fuel is to be found in fantasy writing. Most of the time when I’ve finished a fantasy novel (and most of the time when I’m only a chapter into a fantasy novel) inspiration hits and my fingers can’t keep up typing with the stuff burning in my head. But just as fantasy books are good for writer’s imaginations, they’re good for non-writer brains too, keeping our minds sparking and pumping. (Brains definitely looks strange when you’ve typed it this many times)

5 – It offers hope…

Apologies, again with the cheese, but fantasy offers hope. Like the great Albus Dumbledore said “Happiness can be found in the darkest of time, if one just remembers to turn on the light…” The Light in this case is fantasy, where anything is possible, where you can be anyone and where you can escape. I was going through some pretty dark times a couple years back and places like Hogwarts made things seem not quite so dark.

The above will definitely be the last of the cheese (mostly definitely)

6 – Most of the time it’s fast, epic, full of adventure and other cool stuff… Fantasy is where it is happening. 

A lot of genres are fast-paced, action-packed and exciting, but fantasy tends to be the most fast-paced, the most action-packed, the most exciting and full of adventure. In what other genre do characters battle evil overlords who take the form of a giant eye, or play chess where the pieces attack each other, or go on quests for golden fleeces? Only in fantasy. Fantasy is where it’s happening.

7 – There are no rules…

Everyday we are hit in the face with rules. Drive on this side of the road, don’t eat that chocolate bar, buy this useless piece of crap for half price… In fantasy there are no rules… for us the reader at least. Sure characters might have to avoid Mordor or risk death or behave or end up a blueberry, but us readers get to read it all without consequence.

8 – It’s educational…

It may not be as educational as a text book, but fantasy can offer some valuable life lessons. Don’t piss off evil wizards, don’t go into haunted houses, don’t eat strange food… But more seriously, fantasy usually has a moral message running through it that we can learn from. Good triumphing over evil by remaining good and not going to the dark side, friendship and family are important, fight for what you believe in. Fantasy has valuable lessons to offer.

9 – It’s inspirational…

This isn’t a rehash of #4. Fantasy offers inspiration to readers in real life. When a reader sees a hero beating the villain, when we read about a boy finding his parents, a character winning a competition or making friends… it inspires us, the readers, to mirror them in our own lives. Our villain might not be a dark lord bent on our annihilation or an megalomaniac out for our suffering or a bloodthirsty three-headed dog but if someone is being bullied and they read about a character standing up to their bullies they may find inspiration. If they have trouble making friends and see a character they admire making friends, they may build up enough courage to give it a shot themselves. Fantasy offers us inspiration, no doubt.

10 – Erm… ah… let me think… Because it’s fantasy, man. That’s all you need to know.

What other genre has dragons, schools for witchcraft and wizardry, gardens made from candy, worlds at the back of wardrobes, talking animals? Come on, man, what other genre has Quidditch? None I tell you. Which is why fantasy is The Boss.

Do you agree that fantasy is the top genre? Or do you prefer another genre? Feel free to drop a comment below.


Are Writers Born or Made?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, maybe even before. Writing always seemed something I was supposed to do. My Grandad told me stories, from books and a lot he’d made up himself, when I was little and I’d make up my own too, or add to the ones he told me…

Then when I realised people wrote books and they didn’t just appear out of thin air, I decided I wanted to do that.

I’m not sure if I was born with an intention to write, or if I was made that way by the stories I was told and the books that I read.

I read a lot of fantasy when I was a kid, grew up with Potter and Percy Jackson, and for a long time that was what I wrote too. So, again, it could be said that my ambitions to write were made by what I read. Over the years, I started to read more than fantasy–crime, thrillers, horror–and I started to write more than fantasy–crime, thrillers, horror… Changing what I read changed what I wrote, and how I wrote it. Does that mean what I read made what I wrote, or just that it changed what was already there, what I was born with?

Some authors say they wrote ever since they could remember. J. K Rowling wrote stories about a rabbit called Rabbit, when she was a kid, Stephen King wrote from an early age and hasn’t stopped since. He says that he doesn’t write horror because his childhood was bad, but just because that’s what he likes to write. So King wasn’t, as a writer, made by his experiences.

Neither was I. My childhood was pretty normal. Climbing trees, pretending I was Indian Jones or Alan Grant from Jurassic Park, but most of what I write is pretty dark and violent. So, in this sense, the way I write wasn’t made by my childhood or my life.

Some authors, like Lee Child, didn’t start writing until pretty late in life. Child was laid off from his job and turned to writing in the months after. He hadn’t done it professionally before, for novels, instead he wrote commercials and news stories. But finishing his previous job made him start writing novels.

So in that sense, it could be said that Lee Child was made, as a writer (novel writer), more than he was born as one.

A lot of writers/authors say they only ever wanted to write, that it felt natural and that they have done it from a very early age. Some say different.

But which is the truth? Are writers/authors born or made? Made and changed by their experiences, a desire to be famous or rich…

Which do you think it is? Born or made?

Feel free to leave a comment for which one you think is true, or if you think it’s both, or even something different, below… 

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Authors I’ve Read The Most

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

1 – Lee Child (Jack Reacher books) – 

There are twenty Jack Reacher books so far, the twentieth (Make Me) due out this September. I’ve read all of them but Make Me, and I hope this series continues for a long time. Action-packed and additive, each book is gripping from the start and Reacher is a great main character.

2 – Stephen King – 

Stephen King stands alongside Lee Child as my favourite writer. His characters feel real, despite the crazy plots they’re part of. His writing is unique: you know you’re reading a King book. Under the Dome and 11/22/63 are my favorites of the nine books of his I’ve read so far.

3 – Derek Landy (Skulduggery Pleasant) – 

The Skulduggery Pleasant books (most of them) are fast, funny and addictive. I’ve read eight so far, with the ninth and final book to read. His new series Demon Road comes out soon, and sounds like another quality read.

4 – Michael Crichton – 

Author of one of my favourite books (based on my favourite movie of all time) Jurassic Park, Crichton is a master at blending science and fiction. There are only a couple of his books I haven’t read, and nearly all of them are awesome.

5 – Rick Riordan – 

I grew up with the Percy Jackson books, have read them multiple times. The Kane Chronicles is another solid series, and the first couple of books I’ve read of the Heroes of Olympus are pretty good too. His plots are a little too similar for all of his books, but they make up for it in action and great characters. His new series based on Norse mythology is out this year.

6 – Joseph Delaney (Spook’s Apprentice) – 

Joseph Delaney is author of the Wardstone Chronicles (Last Apprentice in the US), another series i grew up reading. It’s darker than Potter, scarier and as addictive. There are thirteen books in the main series, a couple of them spin-offs with ties to the main storyline. A great series if you’re looking for something to replace Potter.

7 – Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell (The Edge Chronicles) – 

The Edge Chronicles is an eleven book series (with a new spin-off already out), high-fantasy with some unique world-building. Stewart writes the books and Riddell illustrates the. One of the best YA/MG fantasy series around. Check it out.

8 – Jonathan Stroud – 

Author of the Bartimeaus trilogy, and more recently the Lockwood and Co. series. Stroud blends great writing, humour and gripping plot lines.

9 – John Flanagan (Ranger’s Apprentice) – 

I’ve read 8 of the books from the Ranger’s Apprentice series. For the most part, they are action-packed, with some solid characters and plot lines. The earlier ones can be read as stand-alone. The later ones start to blend together more.

10 – J. K. Rowling – 

There are only seven books in the Potter series, but I’ve read them a dozen times each, grew up with them and the movies. I didn’t enjoy her crime book, but will read the second in the series at some point. Hopefully she’ll go back to writing fantasy one day.

Harlan Coben, Dan Brown and James Patterson are three more authors I’ve read plenty of books from.

Does anyone have any of the same authors on their list? Which author have you read the most books from? And which authors do you want to read more book from?

What Type of Writer Are You?

What Type of Writer Are You?

There are probably as many different ways/processes of writing as there are writers. Each writer will likely do something different to another. Whether that is how fast or slow they write, if they plan before or not, where they sit to write or if how they react when they hit a wall…

I thank Stephen King for the way I write now.

Time was I used to write when inspiration hit. A week could go by without anything happening and then there would be a week of writing five hours every day. Most of the time this ended in a manuscript that was too long and disjointed, with writing that was equal parts solid and pretty bad.

So I decided to take Stephen King’s advice–one of the many valuable pieces of it. He writes a set amount of words a day. He can write more, but doesn’t let himself write less. That way, he says (paraphrasing), the characters don’t go stale in his head.

So I decided to try it out. I started writing a minimum of 1,500 words a day, using the rest of the time in between to plan what was going to happen next. I bumped that up to 2,000 and have been sticking to that count pretty much consistently for several years.

It works. But it might not for everyone. Below are a few of the different types of writers I could think of.

The Fast and The Furious writer –

Like an action movie (a decent one– The Fast and Furious franchise, most of Michael Bay’s movies), they don’t let up until the finish. They start and write every day, for several hours, until they type ‘The End’.

The Lord of the Rings Extended Edition writer – 

They move slowly when they need to, taking time for detail and getting things right the first time around.

The Loki from the Avengers Writer – 

They take the time to plot and plan carefully, developing a long game that will ensure they can survive through to the very end of the novel before they actually start writing. 

The Step Brothers (Will Ferrell movie) Writer – 

They avoid writing until they can’t anymore, until someone tells them to get their head in the game, or they realize that they don’t have a choice but to start writing. 

The Marvel Universe Writer – 

They write several books at once, juggling different worlds and characters but eventually bringing everything together in the end. 

The Superman Returns (Or Terminator) Writer – 

They start a project or projects, decide to leave it to start something else, before returning (I’m back.) to give it another shot. 

The John McClane (Die Hard) Writer –

Most of the time they don’t have a clue where they’re going or what’s happening. They get dropped into a project and make it up as they go along, hoping for the best. But it all works out in the end.

 Does anyone fit into one, or are you a different kind of writer? Feel free to drop an answer in a comment below…

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