This article is by Bets Davies.
I always felt straight jacketed by fantasy’s strict genre expectations.
Got a little too much romance or sex in your fantasy novel? Sacrilege. That is Romance.
Wait. What if I am talking about two guys? Gay and Lesbian, then. All the way.
Got frat boy zombies who want to play foosball all day? Hey. That’s Horror!
It seems that Fantasy, a genre whose very name suggests the ability to explore and expand, has become too confined. For me, this disillusionment is married to the fact that I like to explore a lot of different areas.
When submitting to agents, I routinely received responses that came down to, “We think you can write, but what the heck are you doing? Do something more normal and we’ll look at it.” The problem is that I don’t know how to do normal. My writing doesn’t fit into the strict confines of the genre.
Yes, genres do serve a purpose. They can help us to tag a book quickly while searching for a new novel to read. They also provide basic structures and elements to work with. But that isn’t enough. We now have sub-genres. We are fitting our writing into smaller and smaller niches.
As I spent more time defining and discussing my work with others, I found it helpful to come up with my own concept, which I hope contributes to a widening perception of what can be included, rather than closing out elements. I call it “fusion fantasy.”
I have my mom to thank for the name. She’d been reading my latest book, Weaver’s Web, and told me that she liked it because it was “a fusion of so many elements.” And that was the “ah-ha” moment.
So what does it mean?
Take a base of fantasy. Throw in various other genres. Throw it in a blender, and put it on high. That is fusion fantasy.
Fusion fantasy opens the door for us to combine elements of different genres to come up with something new. Yet it still sits firmly in the realm of speculative fiction, as it asks the classic question: “What if?”
For me, however, speculative doesn’t take the next step that fusion does. Fusion fantasy takes a bite out of any genre that can’t run fast enough to get away. Innovative writing is more than a series of elements to be rearranged over and over again. Beyond “What if,” fusion asks, “Why not?”
Genres, in general, encourage cookie-cutter thinking. Fusion is different in that it encourages the author to stretch.
It makes statements like, “It’s my party and if I want to pull from Romance, Films, Mythology, Horror, Memoir, Poetry, Literary Fiction, Gay and Lesbian Fiction and Post Cards, I get to.” Fusion allows the author to grasp at as much as they wish to build worlds, characters, metaphors and structures. The heart is fantasy, but there is so much more to a body than a heart.
Fusion Fantasy is in many ways an infusion of other genres into fantasy. In reaching beyond, when we come home to fantasy, we are all the richer for it.
What are your thoughts regarding this idea? Do you find the confines of genre to be too restrictive?
About the Author:
Bets Davies did an abrupt turn around from studying memoir in her MFA to writing fusion fantasy. She also writes poetry. She lives in Ann Arbor with her two dogs and a parrot. You can read her blog at betsdavies.blogspot.com.