Having grown up in West Wales, I developed a love of pseudo-medieval fantasy from a very early age. Living in such beautiful rural countryside, rich with history, it was easy for the imagination to run wild. Trips to the beach usually ended up with attempts to recreate castles from stories I’d read, and things haven’t really changed much. I built the one in the picture a few years ago on the beach at Amroth, as I attempted to inspire my children along similar lines. I was quite pleased with this one, as it even had a running water moat created from a tiny stream that I diverted.
My first attempt at writing fantasy, The Forging of the Sword, was very derivative. For anyone who has read a lot of fantasy, it is easy to pick out my favourite authors from the style and storyline of that first novel. To be honest, whenever I read from it now, I cringe! However, for anyone trying to write a book for the first time, I would say that attempting to emulate one’s literary heroes is not necessarily a bad thing.
I was never formally taught how to write longer stories and I doubt that the majority of authors received specific training before penning their first book. My learning came from my background of prolific reading. With each book I’ve written, I’ve attempted to learn from the mistakes I’ve made in previous works, and I’m frequently told by other authors who have read my work ‘You’ve written yourself into being a writer’. I consider that a great compliment.
The most common question I get asked by young people is ‘Where do you get your ideas from?’ The answer is simple: everywhere! For example, I always swore I’d never write dragon stories as, for me, Anne McCaffrey owned dragons. Her series: The Dragonriders of Pern was one of my favourites for many years and I never thought I’d venture into her territory. However, Dragon Orb: Firestorm was born out of an online argument on a fantasy forum website.
My point of view was that dragons had been over-done. There was nothing fresh to do with them. The person I was arguing with (a librarian from Florida) was of the opinion that there could never be enough dragon stories. Her adopted online persona was ‘Dawn Dragon’, so I guess it was easy to see her passion! For a bit of fun, I wrote a few opening paragraphs for a story called Dawn Dragon and posted it for her to read… it featured a day dragon, a night dragon, a dusk dragon and, of course, a dawn dragon. Little did I realise that this playful bit of fun with her internet name would lead to a new four book series.
I guess what I’m trying to say is: if you’re an aspiring writer, keep an open mind. Keep your eyes and ears open for ideas. Often the best ones come from unlikely places.
This post was written by Mark Robson, but posted by Elen Caldecott