I was a year old when the movie The Dark Crystal hit theaters and five when Labyrinth was released. Other favorites in our house included The Last Unicorn, The Hobbit, Flight of Dragons, and Nausicaa. Those movies and cartoons shaped my childhood. I watched them until my parents begged me to stop, and then I waited until they left the room and hit Play just one last time.
The movies, the stories, were fantasy in its purest form. I didn’t realize as a small child, that those worlds were impossible to visit. I wanted to pet a unicorn. Heck. I wanted to ride a dragon. I wanted my own sword, which resulted in my parents installing a lock on the silverware drawer. Something about thou shalt not skewer thy baby brother… I also had a huge crush on Jareth, the Goblin King from Labyrinth. My parents discouraged this behavior as well. Something about thou shalt not bargain away thy baby brother in exchange for a hot boyfriend…
I know what you’re thinking—my parents never let me have any fun. Okay, and that maybe I had an unhealthy fascination with all the ways I could rid myself of my annoying little brother.
But the truth is, those movies kickstarted my imagination, and my love of all things fantasy. So it’s strange to think, looking back, that I fell into reading crime and mystery novels instead of fantasy or paranormal novels. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I stumbled across Darkfever by Karen Moning and became hooked on urban fantasy. From there, I rediscovered my love for the genre, and all its enticing new subgenres. I gobbled up paranormal romance—J.R. Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood, Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark, and Gena Showalter’s Lords of the Underworld. I devoured all flavors of urban fantasy from Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files to Patricia Brigg’s Mercy Thompson series.
Really, it was after reading Darkfever that I got a tickle in the back of my mind that maybe I could write a book. All those years of reading crime and mystery, the thought had never occurred to me. But after glutting on fantasy and paranormal romance, I began to have ideas for my own worlds and characters. It was so unexpected I didn’t know what to do. So I sat down and began writing. Four years later, here I am. I still write fantasy and paranormal stories. I still read them too.
I have been told my tastes are limited, but there I must disagree. My tastes are specific, yes, I will admit to that. But no other genre has as much variety as fantasy. No other genres encompass witches, vampires, werewolves, wizards, demons, angels, gods and goddesses, creatures of myth and folklore, humans, mermaids, mermen, and every other creature you ever promised your little brother lurked under his bed. (Not that I ever told him there were goblins hiding beneath his bed, waiting for him to get up to use the bathroom so they could drag him into their underground lair, because that would be wrong. What? Okay, so maybe I hinted at goblins. A little. And okay, one time I hid under his bed and grabbed his ankles. I couldn’t sit for a week after Mom caught me.)
I feel I should add here that my parents had no sense of humor. But I’m happy to report they have much improved since I hit thirty and stopped tormenting my brother. I think giving them a granddaughter probably helped too.
How about y’all? What led you to read fantasy? Or if you don’t, what would make you give the genre a try?