Sunday, November 21, 2010

Why I Write Fantasy -Joanne Hall

Welcome Joanne Hall, fantasy author and founder of speculative fiction convention Bristolcon!

Amber: Why do you write fantasy?

Joanne: I grew up reading fantasy.  My mother used to read to me when I was very little, and she was a Tolkien fan, so even before I could read I had heard The Hobbit a few times.  She was also a very keen library-goer, and going with her I discovered Diana Wynne Jones, Susan Cooper, Louise Lawrence...  It grew from there.  I always wanted to write, and I wanted to write what I enjoyed reading.  You have to feel passionate about a genre to write in that genre – if I’m enthusiastic about what I’m writing, hopefully my readers will be too!  When I[‘m lost in the world of the New Kingdom, I really feel I’m there, running through the echoing Halls of Hierath or riding to war across the plains of Atrath.  I want my readers to feel that too.

Amber: I see that you’re very involved (Founder and Chair!) of Bristolcon the Bristol (UK) Fantasy & SF Society for fans and writers of speculative fiction. Tell me about your involvement in Bristolcon. Does it help your writing and promotion efforts?

Joanne: I don’t see BristolCon as a place to promote myself, as such, but a place to promote my chosen genre.  There’s a strong core of SF in Bristol, people both creating it, such as Colin Harvey and Gareth L Powell (and me!), and blogging, twittering and podcasting about it.  I’m heavily involved in the Bristol Fantasy and SF Society, and also in Bristol Fiction Writers, which leans towards speculative fiction.  Bristolcon sprang from those groups, but we never thought of it as a promotional tool.  It was born from us gathered down the pub moaning that a city the size of Bristol, with such a hub of SF fans, should have its own convention.  And next thing I knew, I was running it! (The lesson is never agree to anything after you’ve had more than two pints, I think....)

Having said that, I think getting out there, being seen at conventions and meeting people, is a good thing for any writer to do.  It gets your name known, and while it might not result in sales on the day, I believe it’s good for your career in the long term.  Although running BristolCon does sometimes steal my writing time!

Amber: What are your favourite fantasy novels?

Joanne: It changes from day to day.  Right now I’m enjoying Juliet McKenna’s “Tales of Einarrin”, and impatiently waiting for the next volume in George Martin’s “Song of Ice and Fire” sequence.  I suppose my favourites are the ones I always go back to, David Gemmell’s Jon Shannow novels, “Magician” by Raymond Fiest, Anne McCaffrey’s Pern novels, particularly the earlier ones.  And anything by Diana Wynne Jones is like a hug, they’re still a good read even though I’ve been reading her work since I was ten.  They work on an adult level as well, and I think that’s a mark of great children’s writing.

Amber: Why do think readers love fantasy?

Joanne: I think it’s an escape from the large and small aggravations of normal life.  For a few hours, you can immerse yourself in a world utterly removed from the mundane and let your imagination soar.  And I don’t know anyone who’d choose to take the No 47 bus to work when they could fly a spaceship or ride a dragon!

For myself, I had a hard time at school, and I chose to lose myself in stories.  I’ve never wanted to read about people living the same life as mine; I can experience that by walking out of my front door!

Amber: Would you write fantasy even if no one read it? 

Joanne: Yes.  It’s what I’m passionate about.  I think you have to write what you love.  Some writers are just compelled to write, and publication is just a nice bonus if you can get it.  I have to write, I have to get the things in my head down on paper, and fantasy is the thing I love to write.  I wrote for years before I was published, and I wouldn’t stop writing even if I was never to be published again.  It’s just something I have to do.

Having said all that, it’s the best feeling to hear that someone has enjoyed your book.  That’s better than any cash reward!

Amber: Thanks so much for being my guest this week. So many Americans are baking pies and roasting turkeys they need a fantasy break.
Joanne Hall lives in Bristol, England, with her partner.  She has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pen, and gave up a sensible job in insurance to be a full time writer, to the despair of her mother.  She dabbled in music journalism, and enjoys going to gigs and the cinema, and reading.  Her first three novels were published by Epress Online, and she has had short stories published in several anthologies and many magazines.  A collection of short stories, “The Feline Queen” will be published by Wolfsinger in March 2011.  She is also the founder of Bristolcon, Avon’s leading Science Fiction convention.  

The New Kingdom Trilogy:
A collection of short stories, “The Feline Queen” will be published by Wolfsinger in March 2011 

 Visit Joanne on her website 
She loves to hear from readers, so feel free to contact her!

Joanne’s Contest!
Joanne will give away a signed copy of Hierath
(and probably a few other goodies from her Giant Box of Goodies) !
To anyone in the world!
Leave a comment and and include the name of your favorite character
from her books.
Find answers on her website!
She'll pick the lucky winner on November 27th!

1 comment:

  1. Your books sound fascinating and I'm sure you're mother is probably proud of you for being a writer. Mom's just tend to worry about their kids.
    Liz Arnold
    The Wild Rose Press