This would have been a great introductory post if I’d had the foresight to actually plan any of my Wyrd & Wonder posts, but if we met through Wyrd & Wonder and have exchanged a few words, I’m hoping this is a fun little way for you folks to get to know me as a reader 🙂 I came across it on a few blogs, including Maryam at The Curious SFF Reader, Sahi at My World Of Books and Maddalena at Space and Sorcery and I thought it looked like fun.
1. What is the first fantasy novel you read?
I used to think it was The Hobbit, until I realised fantasy didn’t just have to mean elves and dragons and dwarves. Then I realised it was Northern Lights by Philip Pullman, the first book in the His Dark Materials trilogy. Thinking about it though, I think I probably read The Chronicles of Narnia books even before that, so it might even have been The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe followed by The Magician’s Nephew. Memory is a nebulous thing and I just remember always reading when I was a little ‘un.
2. If you could be the hero/heroine in a fantasy novel, who would be the author and what’s one trope you’d insist be in the story?
This is a funny question cos I probably would’t want to be at the centre of any of the crazy shit that goes on in most of the books I read; that’s much more drama than I want in my life thank you very much. I’ll stick to reading about other people’s crazy adventures from a safe distance with a hot cup of tea.
3. What is a fantasy you’ve read this year, that turned into a huge revelation?
Jade City and Jade War by the living genius Fonda Lee. These books are nothing short of masterpieces. The experience of reading these books was like forming actually existing memories in my mind, so that I legit feel like I lived through the events they portrayed. Like I was sitting in the bar of a Janloon lantern man reading the newspaper and I could hop back on a plane and go back there if I wanted to. This series blew my mind and I can’t explain how excited I am for Jade Legacy’s release.
4. What is your favourite fantasy subgenre? What subgenre have you not read much from?
I have such a complicated relationship with subgenres. They’re very useful – up to a point. Then they often degenerate into complete parodies of themselves as readers take them to extreme lengths and get into internet fights with strangers about whether a book is really solarpunk or cli-fi. If I was pushed I’d say grimdark is my favourite genre, but how useful that is as a term anymore is debatable. Let’s say I like gritty stories with no clear heroes and leave it at that.
5. Who is one of your auto-buy fantasy authors?
It’ll come as no surprise, given my previous answer, but George R. R. Martin is one of my favourite writers. I gather that it’s quite fashionable to disparage A Song of Ice and Fire but they are legitimately incredible books that completely turned my idea of what a story had to be on its head. I remember being confused by them at first and thinking “There’s no good guys, whose side am I supposed to be on?”. And after a while coming to the realisation that that was the point and having my mind explode into all the fascinating possibilities that opened up. Plus the writing is stellar and is one of those rare series that pulled me nose over tail into the world of the story to the point of not being aware of my surroundings anymore.
6. How do you typically find fantasy recommendations? (Goodreads, Youtube, Podcasts, Instagram..)
Most of my recs these days come from the fabulous people I talk to on Twitter and my fellow bloggers. Twitter is a fantastic place for book recommendations actually. You can ask for the most specific thing, like low magic economic fantasy with Machiavellian merchants and interdependent political systems and a bunch of people will respond with The Traitor Baru Cormorant, Kushiel’s Dart, The Dagger and the Coin series and more. I love my bookish pals 🙂
7. What is an upcoming fantasy release you’re excited for?
I guess I already mentioned Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee so it would be cheating to use that again. Fortunately we’re swimming in incredible books at the minute so I’m gonna say The Order of the Pure Moon Reflected in Water by Zen Cho. I actually haven’t read any Zen Cho before but I read the first line of the blurb for this book and was already hooked. A bandit walks into a coffeehouse, and it all goes downhill from there. Sold. Next.
8. What is one misconception about fantasy you would like to lay to rest?
That it’s all crusty white blokes with beards writing about elves and dwarves and dragons. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a lot of books I love written by crusty white blokes with beards, but fantasy is (and always has been) so much more than that. On top of some of the folks I’ve already mentioned we’ve got writers like Chloe Gong releasing a fantasy Romeo & Juliet retelling set in 1926 Shanghai (These Violent Delights); Paul Krueger’s post-colonial Pokemon/ATLA mashup (Steel Crow Saga); P. Djèlí Clark, who’s written some fantastic steampunk detective mysteries set in early 20th century Cairo where the barriers between worlds has been torn asunder, allowing djinni to cross freely into our world (A Dead Djinn in Cairo & The Haunting of Tram Car 015).
9. If someone had never read a fantasy before and asked you to recommend the first 3 books that come to mind as places to start, what would those recommendations be?
I’d do my best to tailor it to the specific person, given the sheer dearth of fantasy available now, but without any prior knowledge I’d steer away from the big hefty classics and opt for something more streamlined. I’m gonna go with The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso, Jade City by Fonda Lee (I will never shut up about this series) and Northern Lights by Philip Pullman, which I actually re-read recently and loved just as much now as I did as a youngster. Three very different flavours of fantasy (none of which contain dragons, elves or dwarves) that can show how much variety there is within the genre.
10. What’s the site that you like to visit for reviews, author interviews and all things fantasy?
One of my fave bloggers, Caitlin who runs Realms Of My Mind. She’s great and my TBR is under a great deal of strain because of her. If you don’t already follow her, what are you still doing here? Click that link and go read her blog!
Whew! That was fun. What about you folks? Let me know what kind of fantasy reader you are. If you don’t wanna do the full thing, mebs just answer one or two of the questions in the comments or let me know what you think about any of my answers. Toodle pip bookwyrms.
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