Growing Up as a Fantasy Writer

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Today’s post is a little bit long and personal, but please bear with me. Please…?

I am a fantasy writer. I always have been. Other than short stories, I have never written a single piece that didn’t involve swords and sorcery, heroes and villains, and a bookload of ridiculously epic scenes. Right now I’m juggling three projects, one of which I intend to make public fairly soon, and they are all fantasy.

It would be cliché to say that I haven’t always been like this—and a lie. Because, the truth is, I can’t recall a time when I wasn’t fascinated with the idea of creating new worlds and populating them with people and creatures arising from my imagination.

So how did I become this kind of person? What went wrong!?

Let’s travel back in time.

They tell me I learned to read by myself when I was two or three. Apparently, when I was a little kid, I used to steal my older sister’s school books and peruse them without anyone noticing. Every so often, I would go to my mother, my sister, or my grandmother, and I would ask them how a certain letter or word was pronounced. Then, one day, I started reading aloud the captions in the news. Everyone was shocked, since none of them remembered having taught me a thing about reading.

Thus did my love for books begin.

I was also, at this time, blessed with a large private library. We had everything in there, from children’s books my mother used to teach her students to the complete works of Nietzsche in German (which I tried to read later on in life, with varying degrees of success—varying from mild to absolute failure).

Then, when I was five, I went on a trip to Brazil with my mother and a missionary team. We went on a “cruise” through the Amazon river, but, since they were doing charity work, we didn’t stop at the usual spots. We visited the poorest, most deprived little towns along the shores and brought them food and utilities.

During this trip I got all too familiar with piranhas, alligators, snakes, and more insects than you have ever seen in your life. It became usual to watch multi-coloured birds speak in what sounded too much like human speech, and I fell in love with the music that the people we met played.

I mention this because I believe my trip to Brazil has a lot to do with the imagery I use in my novels. Everything is always colourful—usually not the colour it should be—and all the places my characters visit are not what you would usually find in a typical fantasy novel.

But I digress.

I mentioned in an earlier post that the first books I remember reading (other than One Thousand and One Nights and an assortment of children’s books whose titles I can’t remember) are the Agatha Christie novels. There was also some Japanese historical fiction, some R.L. Stine Goosebumps titles, and a Spanish series of books called Manolito Gafotas. I wouldn’t read my first fantasy book until I was thirteen or fourteen, when I discovered The Lord of the Rings.

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This is not to say I didn’t write when I was a kid. I used to draw plenty of comics, scrabbles with surprisingly, ridiculously, laughably complex plot twists. But I hadn’t dabbled in fantasy yet.

The year is 2001. I am a bookish, gaming mess of a teenager that keeps failing most of his subjects at school. I spent most of my time reading The Lord of the Rings, a saga which my good friend Enrique had introduced me to, and the Dragonlance, which would turn out to be one of the most influential sagas in my work. I had by then discovered emulators and the joy of RPGs, and I spent hours upon hours playing Chrono Trigger, Secret of Mana, Lufia… Soon I would come to discover Golden Sun—and that, that, my friends, is probably the biggest influence in my work.

Dear God, I was a huge nerd and still am

At this moment, I spent most of my creativity writing short stories, some of which were not without merit—I won a short story competition, once, with a tale inspired by Sonata Arctica’s “Replica”. However, my first big work, my first fantasy piece, was soon to be produced. And it wouldn’t take the form of a novel, no…

It was a video game.

As a teenager, I learned of the glory that is RPG Maker. Being able to produce RPGs, my favourite gaming genre, with nothing but the most basic programming skills, seemed like a dream. I spent the following years tinkering with it, taking part in a number of communities and beta testing other people’s games. I produced a number of joke games (with good ol’ Luis) and a few incomplete ones (the one that immediately comes to mind is Claiming Revenge, which I created with Enrique).

However, my breakthrough was Amanecer (Dawn, in Spanish), a fantasy game about some travellers who will unwittingly start a revolution to reclaim their home island from its invaders. If you look deep enough in the internet, you may probably still find the trailer on Youtube and the game uploaded to some websites (OH MY GOD I CAN’T BELIEVE IT I ACTUALLY TRIED LOOKING IT UP ONLINE AND IT IS STILL AVAILABLE TO DOWNLOAD!!).

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This beautiful picture by Laura Fullmoon was intended to be the cover of the book

I’m digressing a little bit, but bear with me, there is a reason for that. Because, you see, my first fantasy novel ever was a written adaptation of Amanecer.

Both the game and the novel attracted a bit of attention—there still is a DeviantArt Amanecer Fan Club, where the people who had played and read the story sent their fan art. To date, this is still the most beautiful, most heart-warming experience I have had as a writer.

I should also mention that I’m a big metalhead. My life’s soundtrack is composed of songs by Sonata Arctica, Angra, Nightwish, Rhapsody… Wherever I went, I always had my CD player (yes, I’m that old) playing their albums on repeat, until I learned their songs by heart. That is how I got my inspiration then—and, to a large extent, it is how I get it now as well.

Of course, this particular passion of me could not help but creep into my writing. There are characters, countries, and plots inspired by the music I have been listening to since I was a teenager. There are songs that inspire me certain feelings—even if they have nothing to do with the lyrics—which I then translate into my work. When you read my novels, you get the impression that things are going fast, and are ridiculously epic; and that’s something I inherited from listening to metal. My personal writing style, if you will.

God, do I hope it works.

It’s getting late now and I have bothered you long enough. What I’m trying to say is, I have read a lot during my life (surprisingly enough, not so much fantasy fiction until recently), but that hasn’t been the only inspiration I’ve had in my life. Video games (playing and programming them), music, and, most importantly, my own life experiences, are the biggest source of inspiration I have ever had.

Many purists would frown upon this. “Only good writing should inspire good writers”, they’d say. Well, I don’t know whether I’m any good—I haven’t published any novels yet—but what I can say is that writing about what I love, inspired by what I love, has been the single happiest, most fulfilling thing I have done in my life.

So what is your story?

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49 thoughts on “Growing Up as a Fantasy Writer

  1. What a beautiful essay! 😀 I’m also an RPG fan. I have been a player of the Final Fantasy series for more than a decade now. XD I’m actually an aspiring novelist, but my attempts usually lean towards the dystopian and romance genres, for some reason. I’m sincerely inspired by your dedication to writing, because I know it really takes time and a ridiculous amount of introspection. 🙂 I’ve been pushing myself to return to creative writing, but my hunger for reading is more powerful. Hahaha. Thus, I currently, stick to writing book reviews to somehow strike a balance or compromise. I do hope your novels get published. If it were to be released here in the Philippines, I would be the first to buy one. 😀 Kudos! ^^

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Final Fantasy has been one of the biggest obsessions of my life :’D at one point, I even considered writing a PhD about it (and it was approved, by the way!).

      I do know it can be hard to strike a balance between being a reader and a writer–I struggle with that every day. But reading is the best way of acquiring perspective and the tools necessary for being a better writer, so I’m sure that, when you go back to writing, you’ll find you have improved a lot! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Oh, it was a long time ago–something about the anthropological implications of the narrative in the first six Final Fantasy titles. It was supposed to be all about analysing the mythology of those games and seeing how it was expressed through the limited capacities of the NES and SNES.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I also dabbled with RPG Maker for a while, back in college. I’m not really gifted in art, so I just wrote stories and see them play out in game using RTP sprites. I managed to persuade a few friends to help me with it too. It was fun 🙂 I still have a few stories that I wrote down but never turn into a game, I’ve thought about making them into novels, but I just feel that they’re more suited for a game.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The art was definitely the hardest! I had to learn to do a bit of pixel art over the years, and even then, I was not particularly good at it. I always was dreadful at drawing…

      Yeah, game stories usually don’t fit so well into novels. I learned when adapted my first one. It felt… a bit empty, I guess. Like you would expect to be doing more about it than just read it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I tried too, but I was also dreadful that I couldn’t even produce one sprite sheet. The best I could do was mix and match some icons to create banners.
        Oh yeah, there’s huge chunk of gaps where it’s just – here’s some dungeon crawling. The pacing is the hardest to translate, I think.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! Your last few lines express what my writing is to me. Your post connects me to my grandchildren’s love of gaming. And once in the only library near me when I lived in a township without a stoplight I discovered and read almost all of Agatha Christie. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think nothing went wrong…My two children (24 IT – graphics and 26 – dentist student, writing fan fiction in her spare time) are very much like you and they were both early book worms, followed us on our travels over the world and were early readers as well. Hopefully you all turned out very much all right! Love your post.

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  6. Dear Miguel,

    I loved loved loved reading your story! After reading this homage about writing, reading and being a bibliophile nerd, let me answer the question, with which you started your lovely essay:

    “So how did I become this kind of person? What went wrong!?” – I can tell you, everything went perfectly right.

    PS: I still love my CD player (although I’m young. Okay, youngish. Let’s say young at heart…). And I’m pretty sure it will outlive me… Old indestructible thing. ♥

    Hugs from Salzburg,
    Nana

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great story on your writing journey! And RPG Maker wow…that takes me back. My published series actually began that way, as the backstory for an RPG Maker game that unfortunately I just didn’t have the time or skill to program. I think I didn’t get that much further than the second town. Kudos to you…I’m going to see if I can download your game 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Reblogged this on thepageofdaniel and commented:
    This speaks to me, because I’ve been pretty much a lifelong fan of sci – fantasy, horror, mystery, action – adventure. I’ve written some short ( very short ) stories heavily influenced by science – fiction & fantasy, which have vanished into cyberspace Nerdvana. Perhaps it’s for the best…..

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ve kind of always been obsessed about the fantasy world. For me it started probably with video games, then LOTR. Today it remains in the form of Game of Thrones and an epic novel I am currently writing about a young boy who gets sold to a traveling, medieval circus. Every chapter sort of functions as a separate misadventure he has in a different town. But mostly it follows the story of him growing up, coming terms with his issues of mental illness (something personal to me) and experiencing the world as he travels. I know the infamous problem of world-building. You write and write until things keep expanding. And they don’t stop. I had originally planned on getting up to 700 pages at the most and now it looks like it’ll top 1,500 lol. LOT of editing to go through. But I do believe the fantasy genre comes with the unique excitement of creativity more than any other. And sci-fi as well.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Great article. The joy of fantasy not only helped me to read but also helped me to live. I have written a fantasy novel, it will never amount to much, but is a place i go when reality bites. But in your case,go for it, love your craft, I’m sure publication is just around the corner.

    Liked by 2 people

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  12. My penchant for daydreaming got me into writing, especially after I was very ill during my teen years. And my love of fantasy books helped send me in the direction I write in now. I love books with magical worlds and dragons such as the Eragon series, and now I create my own ❤ Merry Christmas!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Writing can shape whole lives, can’t it? 😊 specially fantasy! I wouldn’t be myself if it wasn’t for that genre–it’s kiterally part of who I am. I’m so happy to hear that someone else is as passionate about it as I am! Merry Christmas to you too! 😊

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Your story sounds similar to mine, with the exception that I just recently started writing my own sci-fi fantasy story writing. Video games were definitely a big source of inspiration for me, as were fantasy novels and movies. At this point, it is just a side hobby of mine to vent some creativity. Maybe, someday, it will turn into something more, but we will have to see. Loved the article overall. Cheers!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It is funny, how sci-fi and fantasy authors are frequently inspired by video games. Maybe games are better at conveying these kinds of stories than books? At any rate, I wish you the best of luck and hope you can turn your passion into something more! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  14. I love writing fantasy and I love adventure too – even though it can be kind of “hairy” at times. Like you, I have done my share of missionary traveling and have discovered it can provide great inspiration for stories, like when you experience the salt spray of the Mediterranean or climb mountains in Peru. I’m not much into video games (basically because I’m not that good at them), but I love colors and have often wondered about turning my own fantasy novel into a graphic novel. Your article was very interesting. I enjoyed reading it.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Great to have read “your way” here. Liked it.:-) I am much in to fantasy fiction myself. Writing a piece once in a while. This genre lets you go everywhere. It opens so much and limits so little.

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