Sunday, May 2, 2010

Why I Write Fantasy - Gail Dayton

Welcome Gail Dayton, steampunk romance author.

Amber: Why do you write fantasy?
Gail: Why do I write fantasy? Why does anybody?
Fantasy opens the door to endless possibilities. Literally ANYTHING can happen in a fantasy—though it helps if you have rules. But the rules can be anything you like. It opens up the door to playing with all sorts of impossible What-ifs.

What if magic really exists? What if it’s part of everyday life? How would that change how we live? What if another world exists, set sideways to ours, with its own rules of physics that aren’t what we were used to? What would it be like? What if we got sucked through the door between this world and that one? See what I mean? What a fabulous playground!

I was weaned on fairy tales—“old skool” fantasy—and went on to read Half Magic and all the Mary Poppins books, and Wizard of Oz books, before moving on to Andre Norton, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein and other giants of fantasy and science fiction. Yeah, all the Tolkien books were in there too. So I fell in love with fantasy when I still thought kissing was icky. Then I outgrew that phase. (wink)

Amber: Why do readers love fantasy?
Gail: I think readers love fantasy for the same reason. Because ANYTHING can happen—and maybe also, because it’s obviously Not Real. It’s very much an escape. Real life is often both scary and boring at the same time. Fantasy is an adventure. It’s exciting, scary things happening to somebody else. Things that will never, ever, in a bazillion, trillion years happen for real.

This is why I don’t read serial killer books. I used to work in a prosecutor’s office. I know the real scary stuff that can happen. I’ve been in a courtroom and looked killers in the eye, and let me tell ya, hun, that is scary. I want my thrills in the realm of the fantastical.

Amber: Would you write fantasy if no one read it?
Gail: I would write fantasy even if no one read it. Even if no one read my fantasies, because people have always, and will always read fantasy. It dates back to Homer, for cryin’ out loud, with his tales of Cyclops and the Sirens, Circe and the Lotus eaters. Every culture on earth has its tales of the fantastical, whether about the Monkey King or Tir’na Nog, and people have loved them and made up more. So there’s no doubt about people not reading fantasy. Not reading mine—well, that’s another issue. If they didn’t read mine, I guess I’d just have to keep working until I wrote better fantasies. ;)
Amber: What is "steampunk"?
Gail: “Steampunk” is a word used to describe books set in historical eras—usually the era of steam, but occasionally earlier—with oddly advanced science, or other fantastical elements. Some have described it as “urban fantasy, in a historical era.” I currently write steampunk fantasy romance for Tor Paranormal Books.

I have a degree in history, so I have a good “timeline” sense of when things happened and what I don’t know that I need to know. I found myself doing a lot of geographical research. Germany didn’t exist in 1863, but the Austrian Empire did, and the Ottoman Empire controlled a lot of eastern Europe. I needed lots of maps to follow my characters travels across the Victorian landscape.

New Blood is the story of a young woman who unexpectedly becomes part of the rebirth of an old magic in a mid-Victorian Europe where magic is part of everyday life. It came out in March ’09. Much of Europe is struggling with the death of magic—and of all life—in spots. These dead zones seem to be spawning strange mechanical creatures, and the rediscovery of the blood-based magic of sorcery might be able to help deal with the natural disasters. The second book, Heart’s Blood, was released Jan. ’10. It follows the story of the conjurer in the first book who now finds himself suspected of murder, and saddled with an apprentice he doesn’t want. Worse, the apprentice is female. New Blood is essentially a fantasy quest, and Heart’s Blood is a murder mystery. Heart’s Magic will be out in 2011, and follow the story of the alchemist and his wizard apprentice from the other books. It’s adventure-fantasy romance in hoop skirts, with clankety mechanical creatures, magic, and politics.

Gail Dayton was a RITA finalist for Best First Book in 2002, with Hide-and-Sheikh, a Silhouette Desire. Her Convenient Millionaire won the Aspen Gold award for Best Contemporary Romance in 2004. Gail made the shift to fantasy romance when Harlequin opened its Luna imprint, with her One Rose trilogy. The Compass Rose took second place to The Smoke Thief in the Prism Award for Best Fantasy in 2006, and The Barbed Rose, and The Eternal Rose, published by Juno Books, won the Prism for Best Fantasy in 2007 and 2008. Gail currently writes steampunk fantasy romance for Tor Paranormal Books. Read more about Gail Dayton’s books at her website.

She blogs at Dreaming in Daylight 
You can find her on Twitter as GailDayton.

Comment and win a book of your choice
from Gail’s backlist.
Contest ends Saturday May 8th!


  1. A comment from my Facebook page
    mentions the new movie Sherlock Holmes is steampunk.
    What do you think?

  2. If we're going for movies that illustrate steampunk, the Wild, Wild West with Will Smith is actually closer. Though I loved the Sherlock movie, I didn't see the gadgets I expect from steampunk in it.

    Of course, he did manage to kill (and resuscitate) the dog several times.

  3. Love your covers! Thought I'd been keeping track of steampunk books, but missed yours. Ordered a sample for my kindle.

  4. I'm intrigued. Wow, I love the covers of these books, too.

  5. That's exactly why I read fantasy: endless possibilities! :)