What influence, if any, the advent of fandom via the internet impacted science fiction in general and the author in particular?
I would say it’s given sci-fi and fantasy a new lease of life. Fanzines, clubs, forums and conventions spring up from franchises such as Star Wars, Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. While some might argue that SFF is purely for geeks, the Internet has helped fans to realise it’s not and find a plethora of communities where they can share their experiences and just belong. SFF isn’t for everyone but those that do enjoy it should be left to appreciate this fascinating genre. SFF has branched out into books, films and console games and continues to enjoy great success in all mediums. The fandoms are a great research tool for SFF writers. If they’re not already part of one of these communities they can soon jump on board and learn first-hand what readers want most from the genre.
What is your take on the future of Science Fiction/Fantasy in general? Do you see it expanding and vibrant, or derivative and stale?
I think SFF is alive and well and will only get stronger in the future. Old masters like Tolkien will never lose their significance and every once in a while a new franchise will begin that everyone is talking about. Harry Potter is not forgotten but it is moving into the past while the likes of The Hunger Games and Game of Thrones are currently all the rage. The truth is that we can’t resist a fantasy world of dragons and magic or a depiction of the future with spaceships and intergalactic battles. These are not new ideas but they are as enduring as love stories.
What is it about fantasy/science fiction that attracts you?
I don’t think any other genre gives a writer the same scope to truly push their imagination to its limits. Many writers in this field have to become gods and create their own worlds. Before you’ve even written one page of a book you’ve made a massive commitment in giving life to your own world. This genre not only allowed me to explore my existing passion for fantasy but also to incorporate my love of history, which started at school. The world of Elenchera has a very detailed history and despite a decade of work I have no regrets about the time devoted to this venture.
How do you decide the characters' names in your book? Are there specific conventions you follow for each world?
All my novels are set in Elenchera but when it comes to names I have different approaches if I am being honest. I sometimes just snatch names from history that I particularly like - but I have yet to find a place for Svein Forkbeard! Other times I’ll come across a word, check its meaning and if it sounds plausible for a character, town or government I might use it. My next novel, A World Apart, features a character called Halcyon, whose character is pretty much the opposite of what the word actually means. I also like to take letters of the alphabet and jumble them up into words that sound nice and might make good names. I applied this approach in naming the main protagonist in Fezariu’s Epiphany.
Tell us about how you do your world-building.
I started with a world map and then individual drawings of the twenty-three lands that make up Elenchera. Once you have a map with all the contours in place you’re already well on your way with the history. Take a look at an island and its geographical layout, you already can answer questions such as where would be the best place for a settlement, where could I invade, where would I get coal and iron ore from, wood, set up farms etc. Elenchera comprises 47,000 years of history, divided into twenty-five ages known as Shards and I have a map for each land in each age, so more than 500 maps in all, every one tracing the building of new towns and cities. With those elements in place all that was left to do was create an in-depth time line of world events which turned out to be easier than I thought. The real difficulty was cross-referencing when lands met each other through war, trade, alliances and colonialism.
What directions/topics/issues would you like to see SFF authors take on?
I’m personally trying to make my fantasy more accessible to a wider range of readers by putting the focus less on the world of Elenchera but more on the characters that inhabit it. Many of their stories in essence could take place in any world and this is something I’d like to see other writers consider too. SFF is such a great genre and although it’s popular I wish more people read it. I appreciate many books in this area, especially science fiction, might seem too daunting to read but we can still learn from these books. SFF authors shouldn’t be afraid to branch out and incorporate elements of other genres in their own work, to keep this style rich and varied. It will never die but it’s always great to a offer a rich array of choice to any readers that do decide to drink from this imaginative well.
Describe the difference, as you see it, between science fiction and fantasy. Similarities?
I read an excellent article in March by Pavarti Tyler from Novel Publicity which addressed this particular question and I share the same view. She argued that fantasy is about the impossible whereas science fiction is about the possible. Fantasy is often in a setting that is very much part of our past, with a Medieval-esque feel to it as warriors with swords and bows do battle against one another and mythical creatures such as dragons and goblins. Science fiction speculates about the future and though some of the novels in this field may seem too extravagant to ever happen, that isn’t to say their events won’t occur. When Orwell and Huxley wrote their dystopian novels 1984 and Brave New World, most readers would have assumed their worlds couldn’t possibly come true but those books have turned out to be very relevant indeed! Science fictions and fantasy are united in their ability to truly push the imaginations of readers and writers alike: they’re the greatest form of escapism in literature as you literally visit alternative worlds. Though the settings are in stark contrast many of the themes are inherent in both genres. I recently read Iain M Banks’ Culture novel Matter and much of that storyline could have been extracted and inserted into the fantasy realm. Science fiction and fantasy should stand shoulder to shoulder but they are very different to each other.
About the Author:
Although David is inspired primarily by fantasy fiction, he also finds his muse in the form of anime, world cinema, history, and biographies. His own books, Fezariu's Epiphany and the in-progress A World Apart, combine aspects from worlds both old and new into compelling tales of a world not soon forgotten., David himself certainly does not lack a spirit of adventure; in fact, he left his job in 2007 in order to spend a month traveling. Second only to meeting and marrying his wife, David counts this as one of the most amazing experiences of his life.
Fezariu grows up among the soldiers and becomes one of them. He thinks his time with the mercenaries has hardened him. But a campaign in his old home town pushes him too far, and he discovers what really happened to his mother. Maybe there are some things money shouldn't buy... and maybe it's time Fezariu took his revenge.