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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Finding My Voice in Fantasy (excerpt)

Formerly a literary author, Mr. Grossman describes the call of fantasy and what it felt like to write it.
(excerpt from his NYT Draft essay)

By Lev Grossman,  August 16, 2014

"I wrote fiction for 17 years before I found out I was a fantasy novelist." 

"...I was starting to realize what on some level I must have known all along: Fantasy was offering me something I needed, something I couldn’t get anywhere else, not even from literary fiction. That’s when I stopped reading fantasy and started writing it."

"The first time I wrote a sentence about a person casting a spell, it was like I heard distant alarms going off. I felt like there must be a control room somewhere with a bunch of people sitting wearing headsets and looking at a red dot blinking on a map, and the dot was me, and the people were saying, He’s breaking the rules! We can’t let him get away with this! I was writing against my education and my upbringing. I was writing against reality itself — I was breaking rules, and not just the literary kind but the thermodynamic kind, too. It felt forbidden. It felt good."

"The thing about life in the real world is, all your hopes and dreams and desires and feelings are trapped inside you. Reality doesn’t care — it’s stiffly, primly indifferent to your inner life. But in a fantasy world, all those feelings can come out. When you cast a spell, you use your desires and emotions to change reality. You reshape the outer world to look more like your inner world."

"I felt myself connecting with a much older literary tradition, ...writing about magic felt like magic..."

Finding My Voice in Fantasy
By Lev Grossman,  August 16, 2014
New York Times:  Opinionator - A Gathering of Opinion From Around the Web
Draft is a series about the art and craft of writing.
Lev Grossman is the author of the “Magicians” trilogy, including most recently, “The Magician’s Land.” He is also the book critic for Time magazine.


I'm glad I was never a literary writer. Writing--and reading--fantasy has never felt wrong.

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