On writing fantasy

Both fantasy and science fiction are classified as speculative fiction because their settings don’t exist in the actual world, either past or present. That might be said of many novels, but the hallmark of speculative fiction is its creation of new realities. In science fiction, those realities are purportedly based on scientific thinking, while fantasy turns to the supernatural to form its worlds. Often that distinction gets blurred and some people like to argue over what’s what. I feel such debates are interesting but ultimately pointless.

I’ve written both science fiction and fantasy because I’m drawn to the power of imagination. By creating new worlds I can devise novel situations for exploring character: Time travel allows a woman to be reunited with her murdered husband, although he’s been snatched from the day before they met. A downtrodden peasant woman encounters a race that esteems her gender and their esteem empowers her. A deadly man strives to serve the Goddess of Compassion.

Why do I write fantasy? The pragmatic reason is that more people currently read fantasy than science fiction. I’m not certain why, but my experience has borne that out. The deeper reason is that fantasy springs from core human beliefs. I’m not talking about vampires and pixies; but concepts such as god, fate, holiness, luck, the soul, the afterlife, honor, prophecy, ghosts, and destiny. Their existence cannot be proven scientifically, but few people believe that none of them exist. Worship is based on a belief in the supernatural, and I’m convinced that many compelling stories are also.