“The Heir of Night” F-SF Guest Author Series: Mary Victoria
Today is the third post in The Heir of Night F-SF Guest Author Series and I am delighted to introduce Mary Victoria, a fellow, NZ-based, epic fantasy author (although I also thought I detected elements of steampunk in her recently released novel, Tymon’s Flight.) I was privileged to be able to interview Mary on Women on Air, Plains 96.9 FM when Tymon’s Flight first came out (and include a link to the interview below her bio) and also had the very great pleasure of appearing on the “Writing Strange Lands” panel with Mary at Worldcon. So without further ado, I give you Mary Victoria, on our series theme of: “Why Fantasy-Science Fiction rocks my world.”
Stories are full of magic. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. A story can masquerade as reality. It can do a splendid job at impersonating the ordinary, the grindingly mundane. But that is simply the spell it weaves. We are all willing dupes, seeing in black letters on a white page a troupe of living, breathing characters and scenes of joy or infamy. There is no tale that is not an act of invocation. ‘I am Truth, I am Reality,’ says the illusion: believe at your peril. You are entering a web of consensual deceit, catching a ball the author throws at you, participating in a game of shared imagination.
As you can probably tell, I’m of the tedious ‘every author writes Fantasy’ persuasion. Don’t worry, I won’t go all deconstructionist in this blog post. I’ll simply say that genre distinctions do not speak to me. At best they are a pitching and marketing device, a way of providing readers with the stories they like, or at least pretending to provide the story they like before moving on to interesting alternatives. So, why do I write in that storytelling shorthand that makes a reader think, ‘Ah, Fantasy’? Why in particular that code which throws up the warning sign, ‘Epic Fantasy: dragons be here’?
The short, and partially correct answer in my case was that I had a story which cried out to be written as speculative fiction. A coming of age tale set in a giant tree the size of a mountain range had to be either Fantasy or Science Fiction. I suppose it could have taken place in the ‘real world’, as the ravings of a lunatic. But that would have necessitated a clumsy narrative framing device; I was more interested in what happened inside the picture. So I chose Fantasy, or rather Science Fiction disguised as Fantasy, or rather Science Fantasy –
Whoops. Have I given away too much? You’re not supposed to know that yet, not in the first book. But there it is, in a nutshell. The beauty of Fantasy is its flexibility. It is a genre that can morph into anything, that can be anything, from Truth to Dream to Philosophy to Poetry. For a slippery fish such as myself, the possibilities are intoxicating. Fantasy is the ultimate nod to creativity. Anything goes so long as one is able to pull it off. So long as the spell is cast adroitly enough.
I doubt if I will always write Epic Fantasy. I doubt that I am even now, strictly speaking and with an eye to very narrow definitions, writing Epic Fantasy. But I will always be to some degree a writer of speculative fiction, because I love the freedom that form gives. From the subtlest forays of ‘magical realism’ and alternate history to all-out space opera and epic, dragon-ridden sagas, it’s all for me. I love that breadth of choice. And should I break down one day and write a tale of everyday life and love set in a corner of the so-called real world, rest assured that I would still be cheating. Quietly.
There would be a creeping sense of possibility, a whiff of magic in the pages, that gave the game away.
Mary Victoria was born in 1973 in Turners Falls, Massachusetts. Despite this she managed to live most of her life in other places, including Cyprus, Canada, Sierra Leone, France and the UK. She studied art and film and worked as an animator for 10 years before turning to full time writing. She now lives in Wellington with her husband and daughter. Her first book, Tymon’s Flight, was released by HarperVoyager in August 2010. The sequel, Samiha’s Song, is due out in February 2011. Visit her on Live Journal: http://maryvictoria.livejournal.com/
To listen to Helen Lowe’s radio interview with Mary Victoria, click here (then either press the “play” icon to listen or download the mp3.)