I’ve been appending a large number of lofty aspirations and wayward influences to the reasons why I’ve written my book. And yes, they’re all true, but it’s hardly the whole truth.
I don’t think of the debt I owe Tolkien, Lovecraft and all the rest every single day. No, the thoughts that occupy my mind are far lower and less noble.
There comes a moment – perhaps not every day, but often enough as to make no difference – when I’m speaking to an ordinary, affable human being… and during the conversation of whatever it might be, I often think…
Dear God, this is boring, you’re boring, your voice is boring, this whole goddamn world is boring. And I think I might actually hate you. Not you, personally, but the idea of you.
I’m something of a misanthrope. I subscribe to the notion that mankind is small and worthless in terms of the universe, and all the things we hold dear will, without fail, eventually fade away and be forgotten – and I don’t mean by the next generation of humanity. I mean when our world dies and is swallowed by the sun. The universe will go on without us. And yet, a quick survey of the most recent works in popular culture are very assured of the human-centric nature of the universe. Of course I understand it – give the humans something to relate to, they’re your market. But at the same time, humans want to see their own flaws reflected and understood. Perhaps they need to make sense of what they see in themselves. Come to terms with it. At a certain point, things could no longer just be entertaining, no, they needed to help the human race understand itself because it’s such a cavalcade of fuck-ups. Along the way, people began to lose their willing suspension of disbelief – everything needed to ‘make sense’, everything needed to be realistic – even the fantasy. Especially the fantasy. Whatever happened to the joy of a little imagination? When did everything need to be overanalyzed to see if people agree with something or not? And does everything need to be topical? Can’t a dragon be a dragon without also being an allegory for the economy?
In the end, writing a fantasy novel became an act of rebellion against the mundane world, and also against people in general. While my heroes are human, they are either manipulated by other humans or are driven by forces larger than themselves. There are also scenes that are so over-the-top and so fantastical that there are no realistic explanations for them beyond ‘magic’… but don’t worry, I promise the magic is fully explained. And is there a happy ending? Well… that would be telling. But like I said, I’m fully in favour of the willing suspension of disbelief. Take that however you will, from a self-professed misanthrope.
Ultimately, writing fantasy is, perhaps, the gentlest rebellion a misanthrope can devise.