So a little while ago I posted about fantasy being stuck in a rut in terms of races/character archetypes, etc. That post spawned some pretty cool conversations here and over on FB. While a few people did chime in with their opinions about writers “doing it to themselves”, I was a little surprised by the number of writers and readers who pointed the accusing finger at the publishing industry.
The main point was that publishers were just too afraid to go with anything “fantasy” that fell too far outside the mold of what those publishers knew they could sell. I have to agree with that thought, though there are some unconventional fantasy stories that spring to mind (Tad Williams, for example, or Patrick Rothfuss himself).
How afraid are those publishers to go with anything that falls outside their self-imposed lines of acceptability? It certainly makes sense from a business perspective, but is it fear keeping the Big 6 from going that route more often (some unconventional fantasies do slip through), or is it a sound marketing decision based on research? Are they crippling growth and expansion in the genre or are they giving fans “what they want” ? Are they telling readers what they SHOULD want?
Feel free to chime in with your thoughts here – I’d love to hear from other fantasy authors, as well as readers (perhaps especially readers!).
If you’re interested in breaking out of the mold, here are some of my favorite authors who don’t fall into the tried and true fantasy mold of elves, dwarves, humans and dragons battling to defeat the evil mage/king. Some are current, some are older and some are indie:
- Tad Williams
- Fritz Leiber
- Roger Zelanzy
- Michael Moorecock
- Shawn Wickersheim (Indie author of The Penitent Assassin, which can be found here)
- Thea Atkinson (Indie author; her first ever YA fantasy Water Witch can be found here)
- Patrick Rothfuss (of course, lol)
- Lawrence Watt-Evans
- Robert E. Howard
- Karl Edward Wagner