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22nd July 2019

Editorial: Fans and Fantasy?


The Seventh Colour has been in print for a while now. I have been really grateful for all of the positive feedback and comments that it has received but it has, of course, had its share of constructive criticism. One of the things that a number of people have commented on is that they bought the book expecting a “traditional” fantasy, and that this is not one of those.

It’s a fair comment. One of the problems of fantasy, I have found, is that the general term describes something that went out of vogue about twenty or thirty years ago. The solution to that has been to come up with lots of new terms, all imprecise, to try to cover off all of the different things that fantasy has evolved into. So we have grimdark, epic fantasy, magic realism, etc etc. But then you have the problem of an author who has written a book, as I have, to fill a gap – to tell a story that I couldn’t find anywhere else. By definition, I don’t have a sub-genre to try to slot into.

So what is The Seventh Colour? First of all, I am very clear that it is fantasy. It is set in a world which has (or at least had) magical elements. It is telling a story which is embedded in an epic fantasy backdrop. But from the point of view of a traditional epic fantasy it is set in a far distant future. The best way I can explain it is to ask you to imagine that you had only ever read romance stories about the feudal era – knights and princesses, kings and commoners. Then you pick up a regency romance. The history would be there, and it might even be distinctively the same world, but it would still be very different. From your limited reading you might not even have the words to describe it. But (hopefully) you would still enjoy it and if it works well it might even put a new perspective on those bodice rippers you have been reading. It might make you read the next one with fresher eyes.

None of this gets me any closer to knowing what I should call this new sub-genre. Maybe I should borrow from Jane Austen and call it something like “Fans and Fantasy” or “Wigs and Witchcraft”? Or is this preoccupation with genre unnecessary ? Can it just be what it is, on its own terms, without having to be labelled or pigeon-holed? I’d be fascinated to know your thoughts.

In the meantime, books 2 and 3 (which I have ended up writing in parallel) are both progressing nicely. For those of you that have read and enjoyed the first book, I can reassure you that we are getting to see a few old friends, as well as some new characters, in a whole host of new settings and situations. The day job has kept me away from my writing desk for a good chunk of time over the first half of the year. But with summer here I have high hopes of making some good progress over the next few months. Watch this space and I will keep you posted, but in the meantime, if you do have any comments on the thoughts above, please let me know.

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