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What Makes A Fantasy Fan?

Knowledge And Wisdom by lorlandchainI wrote a blog a long time ago about trying to spot fantasy authors while doing book signings. For anyone who might have read that old dusty post (it’s been long since buried by others) you would have seen that I had a very tough time picking us out. In fact, I was wrong every time.

Fantasy fans come in all shapes and sizes, and more often than not, don’t actually look like fantasy fans until you see the delight skim across their face when you mention words like dragons, epicness, and swords. Delightfully, it’s hard to pin us to any sort of stereotype. We can be anyone, look like anything, and the only way of spotting us is when we’re thumbing through the fantasy section, peering like eagles at the spines of unread books.

So this got me thinking. What exactly constitutes a fantasy fan these days? With a rapidly expanding and successful genre, what defines us and the books we love to read?

Fantasy fans are BROAD-MINDED

As the very name of our genre may suggest, we love our fiction to be without boundaries. It’s often the first thing I hear from non-fantasy fans. “Not for me – too far-fetched. Can’t get my head around it!” Not for us. We are open to the strangest of the strange, to myths and magic, to heroes and villains, the stuff of the wildest dreams and darkest nightmares. And we take it all in our great, galloping strides. Which brings me to my next point…

Fantasy fans are VORACIOUS

Book Werm by Kristin KestAs a man-about-Twitter, I often see tweets about enormous, unassailable “to-be-read” piles, bursting with the likes of Abercrombie, Sanderson, Brett, Tolkien, Martin, Erikson, and other such masters of epicness. We are almost obsessive in our consumption of fantasy fiction.

Perhaps I follow more fans of fantasy than I do of any other genre. Perhaps not. I am of the humble opinion that it’s because our genre devotes itself so readily to the epic series, the long haul, the trilogy, the quadrilogy, the quintology, the neverending-ology. No other genre besides sci-fi can boast such a protracted approach to fiction. It’s often a bit jarring when you find a fantasy standalone. We stare at the cover of it, trying to ascertain what series it is part of. Even then, if a fantasy author is the sort that produces standalones, they produce hordes of them. The result of all this? Plenty more books for us to read. And of course, once you’ve started a series, you have to finish it…

Fantasy fans are LOYAL

Bookland by amorphisssOnce a fantasy fan, always a fantasy fan. Going back to our voracity, if we find ourselves liking an author, we usually snap up their back catalogue in an instant, or stay glued to Amazon waiting for their new releases. We are loyal to our authors, and now in this day and age of hyper-sharing and transparency, it’s never been easier for them to stay loyal to us.

I attended the Fantasy Meetup at Blackwell’s in London last month. After the Q&A, I was chatting to a couple of people when I heard someone whispering that a man had come all the way from Germany just for that one night. I didn’t quite believe it until Paul and Marc had their picture taken with him, tower of books and all. He was not alone. A great deal of the contributors on this site came down from Scotland, travelling 11 hours just to rub shoulders with three legendary authors. I think I’ll rest my case there!

Fantasy fans are PACK ANIMALS

We like nothing more than to meet up with others and talk our genre in great detail and length. Just look at this very site! Barely an article goes by without a waterfall of comments below it. The forums are constantly abuzz day on day. And this site isn’t alone. There are more and more fantasy blogs and review sites popping up across the internet all the time now (though of course none can compete with FF!) Storytelling by randisJust look at the various Cons that happen across the world each year as well: FantasyCon, WorldCon, DragonCon, EasterCon… the list goes on. Every single one sees droves and hordes attend. We swarm the stalls and booths and dress up as our favourite characters, paying ultimate homage to our chosen genre. No other industry, save for the comic, film, and sci-fi crowd, (and we’re very intertwined as it is), can boast as much fervour as we can. We are a world community, united in our love for all things fantastical.

Such a good community means great things for our authors. Good books spread like wildfire. Events sell out as soon as they are advertised. We keep devouring, and they keep writing. It’s a symbiotic relationship that is up there with the best of them.

I for one love being part of all this fervent madness, and wearing the badge of a fantasy fan on my bookshelf. I love being a fantasy author even more, and seeing the sheer passion of readers first-hand. I’ve only had the time to name but a few of our traits, and I’m sure there are countless more. But one thing is for certain: were we able to only boast one of these traits, it would be enough to make me proud to be a fantasy fan.

Keep up the good work.

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4 Comments

  1. Avatar Silvermist says:

    Finally, my needs for a fantasy-related blog are satisfied! I look forward to coming back here every day… exploring these archives will be an adventure.

    I guess that alone proves I’m a fantasy fan. xD I’m also a fantasy writer. Are you?

  2. Avatar Jezrien says:

    Blackwells was a great event. There should be more like it. Great article. If there is one thing you can say about fantasy fans there loyal to their authors, damn right.

  3. Avatar noklpopl says:

    Hi,
    I like your site.
    I am a software engineer and I also wanted to create a fantasy startup-community.
    But i gave up, because the community is too small..

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