The world of speculative fiction is fraught with challenges, both seen and unseen. My recent interview with the Guild of Fantasy Authors didn’t go as well as I had hoped. Nevertheless, I thought I’d share the transcript, in the hopes that other authors might learn from my mistakes.
MFA: So, D.H. Willison, thank you for joining us today. Before we can accept you into the Guild of Fantasy Authors, we must properly categorize your debut novel, Harpyness is Only Skin Deep.
DHW: Thanks for having me! [Shifts nervously in seat] Sooo… what shall I call you?
MFA: You may refer to me as the mysterious fantasy authority.
DHW: As you wish.
MFA: I’ll be asking you a number of questions. Let us start with the basics. Would you say your novel is more character driven or plot driven?
DHW: I’d say more character driven. The beta readers really loved the characters.
MFA: Excellent. Next, MC Categorization is an important consideration, so for example, would they be gray, or perhaps anti-heros?
MFA: It’s a question of their primary motivation.
DHW: Well in the case of Rinloh, it would be hunger.
MFA: Excuse me?
DHW: She’s a 10-meter-tall harpy with an appetite for human flesh.
MFA: Human flesh?
DHW: Yup. Well, bones and all the rest too of course. Harpies are very eco-friendly in that respect.
MFA: Hmm… that doesn’t seem to be one of the standard categories. How about the other MC?
DHW: Darin? As a human, I’d say desire not to become a harpy snack is a big motivator for him.
MFA: And these two become friends? That seems rather implausible.
DHW: They do have a bit of a rough start.
MFA: We seem to be going nowhere with the characters. Why don’t we take a look at your magic system.
DHW: OK, there is magic on the world of Arvia.
MFA: Good. Would it be classified as a hard magic system?
DHW: As a human? It sure is! You’d have to train for years to cast even a simple spell!
MFA: That’s not what I mean. It’s a question of hard versus soft magic.
DHW: Soft magic? Huh? That would be… spells used to enhance pillows?
MFA: Nooo! It’s a question of rules. Are there strict rules?
DHW: Yup! You practice magic commercially outside a guild, and they’ll fill your bathtub with tiger leeches!
MFA: That sounds rather extreme.
DHW: You’re telling me. Those things are almost two meters long!
MFA: However, that’s not what I mean. And we’re off topic. Again. Let‘s talk tropes.
DHW: Sure! How can I help?
MFA: Are there farmboys?
DHW: Of course, how else would they grow crops?
MFA: I mean in the novel.
DHW: Oh. No.
MFA: Street urchins?
DHW: No. Oh wait, there are vampire eels! Does that count?
MFA: Do they have any sort of undead powers?
MFA: Are they at least considered sexy?
DHW: Oh, heavens no, they’re pretty gross, actually.
MFA: In that case, no, they do not count. Werewolves?
MFA: Thieves and heists?
DHW: Yup. The constable of the city of Xin is pretty incompetent, so that sort of thing happens quite a bit… oh, you mean in the novel. No.
DHW: No. Wait! One of the minor characters is a half-elf. Does that count?
MFA: It does not. Dark overlords?
MFA: Orcs? Goblins? Trolls?
MFA: I assume there are fantasy creatures on your fantasy world, right?
DHW: Do giant flesh-eating mermaids count?
MFA: That’s not one of the categories on the form.
DHW: Oh. How about really big crabs?
MFA: [Raises eyebrow and scowls disapprovingly]
DHW: They’re really scary, honest! Covered in spines, and they’re the size of a car and…
MFA: [Raises other eyebrow and intensifies scowl] You don’t seem to be taking this very seriously.
DHW: I’m doing my best.
MFA: What-ever. The classification is complete.
DHW: And the results?
MFA: The New Weird.
DHW: Really? For some reason I wouldn’t have put the book in that genre.
MFA: Not the book, you personally.
MFA: The book is a portal fantasy, dual POV, with noblebright male and female main characters, and a humorous tone.
DHW: Wow! You figured that out from the interview?
MFA: No, I just gave up and used the sorting hat.
DHW: Isn’t that copyrighted?
MFA: Am I going to have to use a memory spell on you?
DHW: [whistles nonchalantly] I see and hear nothing out of the ordinary. Thank you for your hospitality.
Harpyness is Only Skin Deep blends outlandish fantasy, the most unlikely of friendships, and endearing characters in a uniquely witty, charming style.
A fantasy novel for adult readers
Harpyness is Only Skin Deep is live! Available in eBook, paperback and hardcover.
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