My gateway drug into fantasy
When I was six, my uncle found me struggling to read his hardcover copy of The Lord of the Rings, which probably weighed more than I did at the time. He gave me a more age-appropriate paperback copy of The Hobbit, which I still have, and I finally finished the trilogy four years later.
I’d fallen in love with alternate-world fantasy by then, and wanted to write my own stories. Tolkien’s shadow proved to be a long one, though. I kept feeling that a well-realized fantasy world was a more or less solemn, dignified one defined by certain traditional elements like magic.
Something had to yank me out of this mindset, but at the time my parents had moved to the Middle East and I didn’t have access to my uncle’s library. But one day I found a battered paperback copy of a Fighting Fantasy gamebook called House of Hell.
Fighting Fantasy is a type of choose-your-own-adventure gamebook which can be played solo. What I fell in love with, though, was its eclectic, dive-in-and-splash-around approach to fantasy. Anything cool from other genres which could work for the books was happily added to them, so if your character took a dip in a lake, you might have to deal with either a siren or a plesiosaur. Robots, kirin, Lovecraft-esque horrors, it was all grist for the mill.
Take-home message: if it can be integrated into the story, it’s a valid fantasy element.
Sometimes this was inconsistent, but if a series has well over 50 books, I can forgive a dud or two. Another take-home message: write as many books as possible.
Finally, gamebooks are inherently enjoyable and helpful for worldbuilding, because they’re worlds to be explored (along with plenty of pictures, which helps). I read another gamebook series called Blood Sword and then discovered Ravenloft netbooks, which inspired the world of Eden in which my sharkpunk novels are set. I still enjoy Tolkien’s books, but I also learned to think outside the box—and to have fun doing so.
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Bio : Marian Perera was born in Sri Lanka, grew up in Dubai, studied in the United States and lives in Canada. For now. She has three fantasy romances released by Samhain Publishing. The third—THE FARTHEST SHORE, where an ocean-spanning race turns deadly when a kraken hunts down the competitors—was released yesterday. Read more about her books at http://www.marianperera.com or join her on Twitter @MDPerera.
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Eden Series, Book 3
Captain Alyster Juell is relishing the taste of his first command for the fleet of Denalay. The steamship Checkmate doesn’t carry weaponry, but that doesn’t matter. His mission is to win an ocean-crossing race—and its hefty prize.
As the voyage gets underway, Alyster hits his first snag—there’s a stowaway on board, a reporter who poked around for information about his ship the day before. And it’s too late to turn back.
Miri Tayes didn’t intend to stow away. She was forced to run for her life when a colleague discovered her secret: She can pass for normal but she’s a half-salt—daughter of a Denalait mother and a pirate father.
Despite her lack of seaworthy skills, Miri works hard to earn her keep, and Alyster, taken with her quick wit and steely nerve, falls for her. But as the race intensifies and the pirates use a kraken to hunt down Checkmate for its new technology, the truth could be the most elusive—and dangerous—prize of all.
Contains a reporter hiding a dangerous secret and the captain who’d like to strip her bare in more ways than one. Also pirates, prejudice and passion.
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Available from Samhain Publishing here.