Guest Post: “Back to the Roots: The Unexplored Fantasy” by Daniel E. Olesen
This fall, the BiblioSanctum is pleased to help spread the word about new and upcoming titles from Sigil Independent, a writing guild founded by a group of like-minded authors who believe in serious self-published fantasy for serious fantasy fans. Among their members, you will find many current and past Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off (SPFBO) authors whose mission is to utilize traditionally published best practices in their work to ensure that audiences will receive nothing but the best possible self-published stories.
Today, we would like to shine the spotlight on Daniel E. Olesen and his new novel The Prince of Cats, which has already received early praise from Fantasy Book Review and Mihir at Fantasy Book Critic, who describes it as “an incredible tale with an Arabian Nights setting and the gritty outlook of The Lies Of Locke Lamora.” To share with us how he created the setting, Daniel was kind enough to write about his experience researching for his novel. We hope you enjoy his guest post, and be sure to also check out The Prince of Cats, out now!
BACK TO THE ROOTS: THE UNEXPLORED FANTASY
by Daniel E. Olesen
Let’s take a closer look at the genre of fantasy. On one hand, it has expanded greatly. There are all sorts of new settings, different characters, and other kinds of stories being explored. This is natural – any genre must reinvent itself on a regular basis, or grow stale and become abandoned. On the other hand, let’s look at arguably the three most successful fantasy franchises: The Lord of the Rings, A Song of Ice and Fire, and Harry Potter. All three are firmly rooted in Western/Northern European settings. It would seem that there is still interest among fantasy readers in the traditional setting.
Which might be great, for the two do not have to be mutually exclusive. My latest book, The Prince of Cats, is inspired by Arabian Tales with a corresponding setting, drawing heavily on Arab culture and language. Besides reading on the topic and consulting with Arab readers, I also did research on location, so to say, by travelling no further than to Spain and Portugal.
As it turns out, when we talk about “European” settings in fantasy, we usually refer to a specific part of it; primarily medieval France, which is where knights, chivalry, and jousting had its heyday. Compare with the regions of the Iberian peninsula. We cannot say who were the first inhabitants, though the Basque people are not Indo-European like nearly all the rest of Europe. The Celts appeared at some point, and both the Carthaginians and the Romans built colonies and ruled the peninsula intermittently. The Christian Goths invaded at some point, setting up kingdoms, as did the Muslim Arabs and Moors from Northern Africa. For me, in order to research the golden age of Islam, I didn’t need to look outside of Europe.
In other words, there is an untapped wealth of history and culture, sometimes within rather small regions of Europe. Writing fantasy in a “European” setting can include more than just feudal kingdoms, knightly aristocracy and so on. There is room for fantasy to expand in every direction and explore all kinds of new settings and stories, as I mentioned at first. But there is also plenty of room for fantasy to explore its own roots and unearth all the hidden gems lying in the soil of traditional, “European” settings.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daniel E. Olesen spent entirely too long studying Comparative Literature and now works freelance as a translator and editor. Writing in fantasy, he draws strongly from history and travels around Europe, always searching for inspiration. His first book, The Eagle’s Flight, is an epic fantasy that can be downloaded for free from his site, www.annalsofadal.net.
You can also follow Daniel on Twitter: @QuillofAdal