Fantasy. The genre is as old as Homer’s Odyssey, can be found in every culture throughout history, and has enjoyed a resurgence of popularity in modern times. I am not a fan.
Legions of writers love to create otherworlds. I don’t. As a writer, the idea of building a completely different world from the one I’m familiar with exhausts me.
I can picture my Scriblerian spec writer buddies shaking their heads and mourning my misguided prejudices. GEKE especially. Creating her Salters’ world energizes her to the point that I’ve nicknamed her Hammie after the hyperactive squirrel in the movie Over the Hedge.
What is it about fairies and fey? Dragons and dwarfs? Monsters and myths?
My guess is that the human soul longs to see a world where good and evil are easily discerned. Yes, even when the evil witch disguises herself as a beautiful queen, or the pure princess has been trapped in the ugly, filthy image of a goblin by a wicked wizard, the reader has been provided with hints that all is not as it seems.
Real life is murky, no obvious lines dividing right and wrong. Misted paths of evil and good diffuse together, and we can’t always be sure we’ve chosen the right direction.
Those are the stories I love to read. And to write. Characters in a world like my own, striving to do good, making mistakes, searching for meaning in life, seeking eternal life. Secular literature points the way toward goodness, something that all of creation instinctively recognizes when they meet it. Christian writers point the reader toward Christ.
I offer a list.
Authors whose books I can’t wait to get my hands on, both secular and Christian:
Ann Tatlock, Kate Morton, Jamie Langston Turner, Ann Patchett, Michelle Stimpson.
Favorite children’s authors:
Kate di Camillo, Madeleine L’Engle, Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Other favorite authors:
Leon Uris, C.S. Lewis, Elizabeth Berg
Wait a minute. C.S. Lewis? Madeleine L’Engle? Kate di Camillo? Aren’t some of their books in the fantasy section of the bookstore? I’ve read the Chronicles of Narnia over and over. The Wrinkle in Time trilogy can be labeled science fiction, but L’Engle still had to create other worlds to make the stories work. And how come Shadow Castle was my favorite book as a younger reader?
Did I say I don’t like fantasy?