KL Pereira on Fantasy Fiction
KL Pereria will be teaching a day long Fantasy Fiction Camp for teens on Friday, July 25th as a part of GrubStreet's Young Adult Writers Program (YAWP). In anticipation of the camp, we interviewed KL about the wonderful world of fantasy fiction.
What do you love about writing fantasy fiction?
Fantasy is a wonderful genre to work in because it's all about possibilities. Whatever you imagine, you can put on the page and, if you work hard, mold it into an amazing and original tale. With fantasy, you can challenge your characters to go anywhere and do anything, which is wonderfully freeing.
Should fantasy writers avoid cliched creatures and storylines (vampires, zombies, etc)? How?
Cliches are interesting beasts--they exist, of course, because they are (or were, at one time) a valuable shorthand for something meaningful. When we come to rely on them too much and stop interrogating why what they attempt to stand in for is important we come up with messy and often meaningless creations (cough...sparkly vampires...cough). I don't think that we should avoid vampires altogether (or other overused creatures and tropes), but instead ask ourselves why they are useful in the stories that we want to write. Are we seeking to explore the monstrosity of humanity or disease? Vampires are a great metaphorical vehicle for that, and if we can create a vampire that is complex, nuanced, and different, we could have a great piece on our hands.
Why do you think fantasy fiction (such as Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, superheros, etc.) so successfully captures imaginations and has become so popular recently?
I'd argue that fantasy has been popular for a long time, since Jules Verne way back in the 19th century, but that lately fantasy has been given a lot more cultural currency because of its selling power. There are so many readers, and the internet has really helped, I think, spread the word about so many amazing series. I think these books capture us because they create worlds and experiences that are completely new and we, as readers, have the power to live in these worlds part time, to be our heroes and understand our nemeses.
What was the first fantasy book you read that made you fall in love with the genre?
The Princess Bride when I was a kid. Hands down. I can probably recite most of it by heart. In fact, here I go: "The year Buttercup was born, the most beautiful woman in the world was a French scullery maid named Annette..." An incredible first line! It's a beautiful book, full of wonderful characters, fantastic creatures, humor, and above all, human relationships. If you've only seen the movie (which, don't get me wrong, I also love; how could you not love a film with Andre the Giant in it?) you are missing out!
Which fantasy authors are you reading right now that you’re excited about?
Right now I'm finishing Garth Nix's Sabriel series and just starting Margo Lanagan's Tender Morsels--her use of language is absolutely breathtaking, as is her ability to create distinctive voices for each of her characters. She writes very dark work, and that's something that always excites me.
KL Pereira likes to traipse around the dark, woody crevices where most would rather not wander. Her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have been published or are forthcoming via Deathless Press, Innsmouth Free Press, Jabberwocky, Mythic Delirum, and other fantastic publications. Chat with KL about monsters, music, and fairy tales on Twitter (@kl_pereira) and keep up with the enveloping darkness on her website (darknesslovescompany.com).
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