Out of the Fog?
Following that random thought about the nature of historical fantasy, I was going to write about my attitudes toward writing in this genre. As you probably know by now my academic background was fairly extensive in the field of history and that I turned from it, not completely but far enough that neither I nor my former colleagues would consider me a practicing historian.
Perhaps, it’s better that I just write about what I think I’m doing and let you all decide for yourselves how I relate, if at all, to the historical side of this “historical fantasy” equation.
The key to understanding my approach lies in the “Author’s Statement” found in the front matter of my novel, Dream of the Dragon Pool – A Daoist Quest. It reads:
The adventure you are about to embark on is based upon an 8th century Chinese understanding of reality, while many of the characters, incidents, and locations in the story appear in Chinese historical records, some are yet to be discovered, and others may never be. It is up to you to decide if any of this matters.
Yet, I wonder which world is more “make believe” – a world where people make up definitions, like “historical fantasy” or “history,” and don’t realize that these definitions are subjective, yet deem them “real” – or, a world where people believe reality can take on many different forms and existences and act accordingly? But I’m not here to make judgments. I’m just trying to explain my way of writing “historical fantasy.”
So, back to the point, I try to represent the world as the people of the place and time I’m writing about understood it – and I guess that’s the historian part of me. I try to take their perspective on how that world works and tell stories about it – and that’s the storytelling part of me.
And here’s where the second point is relevant: it is you, the reader, who decides if this works or not. And a step further, if this presentation, this story speaks to you in any way or not.
It took me many years to discover that as Picasso said, “Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth.” Yet, Zhuangzi would find the idea of “realizing the truth” rather amusing.
In the next blog, I will write about an amazing Japanese anime film that I just saw. I want to see it again before I attempt to write about it.