Fantasy-Faction is 2 Years Old!
This is an exciting month for Fantasy-Faction, because it’s our birthday! That’s right, Fantasy-Faction has been running for exactly 2 years (as of 3rd December 2012).
It’s actually difficult for me to fathom how far we’ve come in that time. The figures make it a reality though: I’m honoured to say that on an average day we get around 2000 visitors and in the 2 years we’ve been running we’ve had over 2,000,000 page views to the website alone. Just think about that for a minute: 2,000,000… I know it is immodest of me to say, but in the two short years that we’ve been running we’ve grown to become one of the largest fantasy communities on the web.
It’s funny because I almost didn’t start this website… I almost started a website about fitness and martial arts. Having been pretty badly injured whilst training for a Mixed Martial Arts fight, I decided to retire at 23. Having been involved in Martial Arts for about a decade, it hurt. It left a huge hole in my life. I was (and still am) a member and contributor to a number of Martial Arts / Fitness blogs and forums and began to think about doing my own. What I found out, though, is that the Martial Arts and Fitness community is really strong. There are hundreds of sites and blogs and they didn’t really need another voice… I needed to find something else to fill my time.
Now, before 2010 I’d never been a ‘big’ reader. And, if I did read, it’s be boxing biographies mainly. However, because I had so much time to myself, I decided to try something a bit more substantial. I’d just completed Assassin’s Creed on the PS3 and so after walking into Waterstones (UK Bookshop) and seeing Way of The Shadows by Brent Weeks for sale, was tempted by the similarities in the protagonists visible on the cover. I read through the book in 2 days and then tore through the two sequels just as quickly. I couldn’t believe that a book could put you through so many emotional states and have you care so deeply about characters. The epic story and vividness of the non-existent struck me too.
That said, at this time I was sure that this was pure luck: that Brent Weeks was simply the most talented author to have ever lived and that I’d never experience this level of writing again. However, I decided to test this theory. I walked back into Waterstones and came across Peter V. Brett’s The Painted Man. Once again, I flew through the book in about 2/3 days and was stunned by all the same things that Brent’s books threw at me. I realised that the feelings that these novels can give you and the places they can take you weren’t exclusive to one or two authors, but were provided by all good work within the genre.
Now, this was something that I wanted to share with people. That grin that you take on as you read about a character as cool as Durzo Blint. The pain in your heart as Scott Lynch kills some of your favourite characters. The jaw dropping moments you have whilst reading prose as beautiful and poetic as Mark Lawrence’s. The suspense you feel as you wait for the thirteenth book in a series to arrive. The mob-mentality you become a part of as you demand G.R.R. Martin hurries up and finishes ASOI&F or whilst you tell the rest of those ungrateful gits to shut up and let him take his time… all of it.
Actually, this brings me to an interesting story that allows me to define Fantasy-Faction. At the Fantasy-Faction / Headline / Blackwell’s evening I had a woman come up to me and tell me that she didn’t like Fantasy-Faction. I asked her why and she said that we never gave a book a bad review and that we didn’t review ‘every book’ out there. Fair point, but I never started this website to critically evaluate fantasy novels. I started this website to encourage people to read what I, and our staff members, consider ‘good’ books capable of giving readers the feelings discussed above and to investigate the genre in an academic and enjoyable way through articles. To me, my job is to tell readers which books will ‘rock their world’ and the articles are a way of investigating how this is achieved or how, as an author, you may achieve those same effects. I have never had an interest in telling a reader ‘this book didn’t do anything for me’. There are plenty of other sites that do that.
Finally, I just want to say that I could NEVER have imagined that 2 years down the line I’d be working on an anthology, hosting events with some of the genre’s most well-known authors, and owning one of the genres most popular websites. I had two WTF moments recently that I think bring this whole crazy two years to a nice full circle. The first was interviewing and eating pizza with Brent Weeks in Brighton and the second was eating Chinese with a completely jet-lagged Peter V. Brett in a Chinese restaurant at 2:00am… (don’t ask) – the two authors who pushed me into starting this whole thing.
Even eating pizza with these guys hasn’t been the ‘best’ of it though.
The best of it is the hundreds of friends I’ve made in my 2 years working on the site: the hundreds of people I’ve met and wouldn’t have met if launching Fantasy-Faction had never happened. To each and every staff member, website visitor, forum member, Twitter follower, publisher, author: thank you for allowing me to do what I love to do. You all rule.