Earlier in the week, I spoke at two schools as part of the FLF Book Week for Young Readers, but from today through till Sunday, the "proper" part of the festival is running (the part that features loads of panel discussions throughout each day where anyone from the public can come along, buy tickets, and listen (or, like me, take notes and then beg some of the participants to let me take a photo with them!)).
Not having a great deal of time (read: way behind on work!), I got myself a ticket for only one event: Are There Boundaries To Your Imagination, with Savannah and Sarah Lotz (aka Lily Herne), Louis Greenberg, and Charlie Human.
If you're interested in what they chatted about, I've listed the main stuff that stood out for me below. If you're not interested, you can skip to the photos (and drool over the giant chunk of chocolate I got from the Huguenot Fine Chocolates shop!).
Does research help or hinder the imagination?
The comment I could relate to here was that too much research could confine the borders of one's imagination. All those facts your brain becomes full of may end up constricting your imagination and prevent you from coming up with truly original ideas.
I've had people ask me what kind of and how much research I did into fae lore when writing the Creepy Hollow series. The answer is: not a great deal. I wanted my faeries to be different. Modern. Unique. I did some research so that I could use a few traditional elements (the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, for example), but I made up just about everything else.
What taboo topics have you written about?
Paedophilia was mentioned (!), but the answer that resonated with me was that genre fiction itself was almost a taboo thing to write when these authors started out. AND I TOTALLY GET THAT! When I first began writing, I was told by people in the industry that publishing fantasy in this country is really difficult. Look for an overseas publisher, they'd say. Local publishers don't go for that. They go for the literary stuff. Walk into a bookstore and head to the "South African Fiction" shelf, and what do you see? Mainly literary fiction. Which is great if that's what you're into, but what about us spec fic lovers?!
Anyway, since then, some amazing South African urban fantasy works have been published, and I'm SOOO excited for the next generation of writers in this country who hopefully won't ever have to feel that genre fiction isn't "good enough" for us to write.
What challenges have you found in writing characters that are different from yourself?
Louis Greenberg said he's always found it easy to write female characters, and when he's had to write a male character, it's been much harder for him! He he! I'm the opposite, in that I always think to myself, But how could I write from a male perspective? I don't know what they're thinking! What did make sense to me in the discussion, though, was that for most of them, writing from the perspective of a character from a different culture or race is a big challenge. I'm scared of trying that (which probably means I should try it!).
How do you deal with negative reviews?
Louis had an interesting answer based on the fact that when you're publishing the traditional route, so much time passes between finishing a book and when it actually becomes available for the public to read, that he felt he had enough distance from that book for negative reviews not to hurt that much.
Sarah: "I just cry!"
He he! Hopefully that's not entirely true ...
|The cool peeps!|
|And yes! They let me take a picture with them! (Too bad the camera chose THAT moment to be weird! :( )|
|Porcupine Ridge Wines was having a special: BUY A CASE, GET A CASE. Since that would land me with 24 bottles of wine, I decided to restrain myself. (We live in a tiny cottage, remember? No space for that much wine!)|
|The obligatory selfie with my awesome friend who could not let me go off to this festival on my own.|
|I would walk much further than 25m for good chocolate!|
|Yay! We found it!|
|Keep drooling ... It's all mine! (There were a lot more ... We ate them all in the car on the way back!)|