Saturday, September 20, 2014

Fantasy Rocks, with Fox & Raven

On Thursday I bestirred myself and [gasp] actually went out after work. And on a school night too, can you believe it? But I had good cause, because a) not only was it Open Book Cape Town 2014, but one of South Africa's new, and totally fab SFF publishers, Fox & Raven, was hosting three awesome authors in the fantasy genre at the Fugard Theatre.

Marius du Plessis (Fox & Raven) chatted to the legendary Raymond E Feist, Mike Carey and South Africa's own Dave-Brendon de Burgh about fantasy, and mostly about world-building, which I admit is one of the main reasons why I love the genre so much.

For those of you not in the know, Raymond is the author of a hugely successful Riftwar Cycle, which has been one of the pillars in the genre for many years. Folks who know their comics will be no stranger to Mike's work, but at the moment he's making a huge splash with a novel entitled The Girl with all the Gifts. Those of you who've been following social media in the bookish circles, will no doubt have encountered Betrayal's Shadow, a really solid start to what promises to be a popular fantasy series by the man.

So, I was totally excited to be privy to the panel discussion on Thursday, and even live-Tweeted the event. For posterity, I've recorded the top comments by the panel...

Raymond: You are better at writing what you love than anyone else on the planet.

Raymond: World building is vital. It has to make sense. Readers will accept the improbable but not the impossible.

Raymond: My father said you've got to give the audience someone to root for.

Mike: There's a sense that the barricades have come down [about genre fiction in general]

Mike: Publishers would send me rejection letters that were basically "Hahahahahaa" [Mike, on his initial experiences trying to get published]

Raymond: It's about trusting your reader's intelligence.

Dave: Everything I know I get from reading. The more widely read you are the more it unlocks your author voice.

Dave: The best writing happens when everything around you disappears.

Dave: Write for yourself. If you write for yourself, you are already unique in what you're doing.

Raymond: That's when you find yourself dancing around your room like a moron yelling "God I'm good!" [On the excitement of really getting in the writing "zone"]

Raymond: No matter who influenced us, we still have unique voices.

Raymond: You don't need to be an expert, you just need to convince the readers you know what you're writing about.

The kernel of the discussion was overwhelmingly positive, with the message to all authors, whether they're aspiring or established, that the field is basically wide open. Never before have so many opportunities existed for authors to take advantage of. Authors are encouraged to read widely, and to love their genre, and not be afraid to experiment and put their own stamp on what they love.

I overheard one gentleman say that this panel had encouraged him to pick up his writing again,
which I find deeply exciting. So, a huge thank you to Marius, Raymond, Mike and Dave, for this inspiring evening. I know I'm fired up to create more words and to love my chosen genres all the more.


  1. I am so jealous! I wanted to go to the ballito signing, but I wouldn't be able to make it :(

    1. It was well worth the effort, even if I had to drive like a mad person from home to get to town in time.

  2. Unfortunately I live just over an hour away from Ballito and I would not have made it in time after work. But hopefully one day when I am big I will meet and great them all!