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Ask Editor Alison #19 (right in here!)

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Ask Editor Alison #19 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:11 am

Happy August Thursday! The forums are open. Ask me your toughest questions about books, publishing, and fictional worlds!
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #19 (right in here!)

Post  Rachel on Thu Aug 09, 2012 9:52 am

Hi Editor Alison! Have I mentioned recently how awesome you are for doing this with us? You are the Editorial Awesome. Just wanted to say that. Smile

I have something of a question about fictional worlds and genre. My current WIP is my take on fairytales, so the setting is basically an extrapolation of what our earth could've looked like several centuries ago if folklore & mythology were true. So while it takes place on an alternate historical earth, there are monsters and slightly magical science and the kinds of things you'd find in a traditional fairytale. I've been calling it low fantasy for want of a better term, since I can't blurb it as "Whee, Rachel writes her own fairy tale!"—does low fantasy sound right to you? I'm curious about the distinctions between various subdivisions of fantasy and magical realism, and what the differences are to you.

Again, thanks so much for answering our questions! Smile

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Re: Ask Editor Alison #19 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:03 am

Hiya Rachel,

Thank you for the kind words. I really love working with you guys. It's great to be able to hear from readers' mouths what they like and what they want to see in the publishing world. And you guys are the future of publishing, so I like to get my foot in early and gain your loyalty early on, MUAHAHAHAHA!!! (Okay, kidding on that last point, but you ARE the future of publishing.)

As to where you'd class the kind of book you're describing, I think you safely fit into fantasy. If you feel like you need to further define, you can slide into fairy tale retelling or adaptation or the like. I mean, look like an author like Shannon Hale. I would say that her books fit safely and soundly into that fairytale world, but she's really doing her own thing. (Well, The Goose Girl is in some sense based on a Cinderella-variant, and her graphic novels play on the fairy tale tropes in Wild West wonderfulness. . . . I'm going off an a tangent, sorry!)

To me, magical realism is entirely set in our world, but there's just a slight bent to things so that the impossible can seamlessly fit with what we'd deem possible. I guess it's a bit obscure for a definition, but I guess I gauge it on how much you have to suspend disbelief. I'm sure that's not actually helpful. I guess I'll have to just keep trying.


Last edited by Editor Alison on Fri Aug 10, 2012 9:52 am; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #19 (right in here!)

Post  JulieHeartsBooks on Thu Aug 09, 2012 1:05 pm

Hi Alison!

So, while we're talking about that, what makes a book fantasy? Is magic a requirement, or just some kind of alternate universe? And then how do you break up high/low/etc?

I ask partly because I like fantasy and would love to know a bit more about it and partly because I may have a fantasy novel, but there's no magic involved.
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #19 (right in here!)

Post  Editor Alison on Thu Aug 09, 2012 2:15 pm

Hi Julie!

For me, what make a book fantasy is very much tied to traditional definitions of what you find in a fantasy book, but it's a very broad category (and thus, high, low, etc.) So creatures traditionally found in fantasy - dragons, fairies, gremlins - yup, fantasy. But then you can also have fantasy in a different way. I wouldn't say that Alice's Adventures in Wonderland has a lick of magic in it, per say, and yet it's undeniably a fantasy novel, because no matter how much you're willing to suspend disbelief, no one's falling down a rabbit hole and going on that level of crazy adventure. (Though, wouldn't it be fun!)

High fantasy tends to be those with really structured world building that's distinct from ours, knights, and dragons, and all that ilk. Low fantasy may have some of these features, but it's grounded back to our world, often. Think Harry Potter where we can keep coming back to our world. We may not have a platform 9 3/4 (well, it exists NOW), but King's Cross station is as real as anything.

Does any of that help?
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Re: Ask Editor Alison #19 (right in here!)

Post  Rachel on Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:47 pm

Awesome—thank you so much, Alison! <3 And don't worry...you've totally gained my loyalty. I will now help you conquer the world whenever you like. Very Happy

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