Import, don’t recycle

When I look at the other fantasy novels at Amazon or other bookstores, I’m filled with hope. Not because they’re bad, but because what I’ve written is different.

What I noticed today had to do with tone. So many English-language fantasy novels are so serious, but not mine. Its tone is notably lighter. I like banter, I like adventure, and I like to occasionally laugh while I read a book! So that’s what I wrote. There are serious scenes too, but it’s deeply rooted in the ideas of entertainment, adventure, and fun.

I mentioned this to my alpha reader, and he said “I think you’ve got something unusual, if not unique, within the genre.”

I never thought about it that way, because to me, it’s not unique. I’m used to seeing stories with this kind of tone, just not from English-language fantasy novels. But I see it all the time in anime.

It reminds me of an old piece of advice from Terry Pratchett, which I’ve quoted before:

1) Watch everything, read everything, and especially read outside your subject — you should be importing, not recycling.

Which is what I did. I took all the things I liked from anime, and I tossed the stuff I didn’t—you won’t find any angsty teenagers in my book. Then I took everything I like from English-language fantasy, and from movies and comics and my own life, and I combined them all into the kind of story I wanted to read.

Instead of recycling the same tired fantasy tropes readers have read a hundred times, I imported the tropes from elsewhere and mixed them together. The result is not unique in its component parts—I could tell you where everything came from. I stole them all. But maybe the combination is something unusual.

If you like action or adventure anime, you may like my book. If you like fantasy stories that explore adult themes and feature actual adults, you may like my book. And if you’re tired of novels always being so serious, and like your fantasy mixed with banter and full-throated excitement, then you might enjoy my book as well.

I don’t know about unique. I don’t have the ego to claim that, and I know I’m an impostor who stole it all from someone else. But I’ll take unusual. When I look around the bookstore, I don’t see anything quite like what I’ve written. Hopefully it’s something you’ll enjoy as well.