My reading tastes change frequently–sometimes I like horror–I used to love Stephen King; sometimes I prefer historical fiction. I’m always looking for something different and it’s hard to find. Jodi Picoult’s always interesting; she clearly does lots of research on her subjects. I enjoyed fantasy for a while and love Game of Thrones but I must confess I haven’t read the books.The only trilogy I ever read was The Axis Trilogy, by Sara Douglass, a very successful Australian fantasy writer, who died in 2011. I knew I had to read three (huge) books but I expected each to have some kind of an ending; I didn’t expect that I would have to drive around to my son’s house one night as soon as I’d finished book one so I could borrow the next one in the series. I did at least have the foresight to grab the third one at the same time but I vowed never to read another trilogy! Not because I didn’t enjoy it but because I spent that week or so basically living in that fantasy world, scarcely functioning in the real world. That sounds a bit extreme but if you’re a keen reader you’ll know what I mean. Some books are very hard to put down and when you really have to you’re still thinking about that other world. Sara’s world was so fascinating I was totally caught up in it.
I was fortunate enough to attend a workshop of hers, in which she told us the basics of writing a fantasy. She always started with a map. When she said that I groaned inwardly; not a good start for me. Geography was never my strong point, and maps? I could barely read one, let alone draw one. (And yet I love travel and have just started adding some photos on a new page here.)
The other point I recall from that workshop was that all fantasy is about a quest and as I was, at that time, studying writing for children, I began with that map and found it worked beautifully. As soon as I had the (very rudimentary) map drawn I could see what kind of creatures would live there and what kind of quest they would have to go on. Beast of War was the most fun I’ve ever had writing a book and it’s free from the 20th May to the 22nd. Let me know what you think. It is for kids but my intention was to reach the Harry Potter audience, which seems to range from around 8 to 80.