I didn’t know what to say the first time someone asked me, “Why do you write fantasy?” It was as if they had asked, “Why do you breathe air?”
Since then, I’ve formulated a better answer than a defensive, “Why don’t you?”
Here’s why I write fantasy:
1. Dragons. Next!
Okay, since I’ve not written a true dragon story (yet!), this might not seem like valid response. The longer answer is magical creatures in general. Dragons, gryphons, gargoyles, demons, vervet, hounds, pookas, and dryads—all these fantastical creatures can have out-of-this-world characteristics and abilities, and I get to pick how to portray them. Heck, in fantasy, I can even make up creatures (see: vervet).
Also telekinesis, psychometry, apportation, clairvoyance, and scrying. I know the general physical and mental limitations of the people and creatures in this world. But what if those limitations were erased. What if people could move objects with their minds or converse inside their heads with other humans and animals? Playing around in such a world, envisioning how these changes would reshape society, is boundless fun.
3. Unlimited possibilities.
You never know what could show up in a fantasy novel. Maybe the main character has a special power unknown to the norms (a la Madison Fox) or maybe the story involves a form of magic or magical creatures you’ve never seen before. Those are the worlds and characters I want to spend time with, where anything, literally anything, can happen.
Fantasy novels are escapism on a grandiose scale. Every fantasy novel is a portal into another human’s raw imagination. You’re guaranteed adventures the likes of which you’ve never pictured before, with characters, creatures, magic, and lands so unique, you’ll remember them as clearly as the places you visited on your last vacation—sometimes more clearly.
This is the true answer, the one that encompasses all the rest. Magic can make a person special, and who doesn’t want to be special? Magic can enable you to do things the rules of physics otherwise say are impossible. Magic is a game changer. It exists in your dreams, the ones you have while you sleep, where you can fly or materialize a box of kittens at will or step into an alternate universe and chat with an alternate version of your spouse (I can’t be the only person who does this).
Writing fantasy novels is the closest I come to wielding true magic.
Why would I want to write any other genre?
Side note, since I first started writing at the age of eleven, all but two of my stories have included magic. The two that didn’t were both about women going through horrible breakups, which was odd because I’d never been through a breakup. It was as if my brain, when thwarted from fantasy, was so morose, the only ideas that came to mind were weeping women.
When people ask why I write fantasy, I don’t tell people that, though. I already get plenty of weird looks as it is.
Artwork by Deevad / David Revoy