Top 10 Fantasy Books that I enjoyed and that influenced me the greatest are;
Alice’s adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
I have always been a big fan of the inane and very abstract. To me this novel is enchanting to the most profound sense of the word. I love how it shows us that entertainment and our imaginations do not have to make sense in order to inspire us to do great things and beauty and fantasy doesn’t have to have a defined set of rules.
This book makes me feel liberated as a creator and much of what I write reflects just how much Carroll has influenced me as a whole, it shows you how to think outside of the box; which is a wonder really, because I have never really been considered by people who know me as someone who thinks outside of the box, regardless how innovative they also say I am!
The wizard of Oz by Frank L Baum
Very similar to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, this novel and the entire fourteen book series has also expressed to me how fantasy and the imagination comes with no rules, that in the throes of your own mind you can do anything – because only you are god to the worlds you are imagining, the only rules that exist are the ones you determine!
You decided what makes sense or not in your world, but you have to make sense in those worlds and not have contradicting ideas that make the world come across as unbelievable. It can be as silly as you want it to be, but there must be some kind of order and to me this novel and the previous one I mentioned does that excellently!
Gregor the overlander by Suzanne Collins
Comedy is a big part of my fantasy writing and to me there is a lot of that in this book as well as cute little moments and emotional rollercoasters galore!
This books shows that even the most disgusting things in life can be somewhat endearing if you choose to switch the way you think. I mean I would never have felt compassion, sympathy and a sense of love for a cockroach for example, but this novel debunked that!
The Hogfather by Terry Pratchett
Once again the comedy aspect is here and that I absolutely love – also it shows that every world needs to have traditions and stories within stories and a sense of belonging and festivities. I love how there is a familiarity to our reality reflected within this book, our Christmas and their Hogswatch and I try to do this in most of my novels. Each world has a different ideology, customs and holidays and I think this is the biggest thing I love about story writing! I love creating absolutely new customs and cultures! Especially when I have conflicting cultures in the stories, each trying to explain the reason behind the things that they do to each other.
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
I love this book because it makes you as a writer think about consequences of the things you choose to do to your characters and it forces you think about being consistent in your actions which precede the characters problem because of it. It makes for good reading because there is a problem the character wants to resolve – a disability if you like, to overcome. Also, once again, there is a comedy element to the novel and there are strong female characters, something which is rare in fantasy I have noticed.
Troll Fell by Katherine Languish
I love place descriptions and descriptions of movement, this book does that well. I love the landscape and flow of the novel and I love the traditional sense of fantasy too – the old style fantasy, based on old folklore. This novel has Vikings as well as house elves (nisse) and trolls. I love Scandinavian folklore a lot and that can be reflected in some of the stuff I write, even if the location is not recognisable as Nordic.
Smoke and mirrors By Neil Gaiman
There are many little gems in this book, lots of lovely prose and I do love novels that have a prose like feel to it; most people find prose hard to digest, but I love it. I think there is a huge snobbery against prose and I find that hard to understand. I love “descriptive dribble” as some people call it and I often find it offensive listening to people who put down prose like works.
A major part of my lack of writing in recent years is due to the snobbery from my readers who dislike the prose that often gets interjected into my stories. I am not overly descriptive, but I do borderline poetic.
According to my previous beta readers, my work is too old fashioned – it is at best Edwardian in style but, usually Victorian and I have to bring myself more up to date; that is the usual complaint I have ever had as well as having too much of a broadsheet vocabulary. They felt that my readers would be a niche and narrow in margin purely because a vast majority of readers have more of a tabloid vocabulary and I feel that is actually insulting to readers of the world! I did allow these comments to dictate my style a lot for a while and it started to kill me as a creator somewhat.
I love how Neil Gaiman seems to be older than he is in some of the works in this book, some of the stories look as though it has been around since Queen Victoria and I love that about him and this book! A lot of my stories are based in the Victorian era which is one of the reasons why I could never understand the problem my beta readers had with it – am I to have modern day urban language at a 1850s lord of the manor’s dinner party? My work is certainly not contemporary usually.
The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
I love the rawness of the novel. I love how the horrific realities of life are imbedded within its pages; the girl doesn’t merely hunt the deer but straddles it and slices it to a perfect death for her and her fox’s food in the winter time. Some might say that is overly descriptive and disturbing but life is disturbing anyway, so why shield from it? It is good writing!
I have been described by a home school tutor as being a very gory writer so perhaps I share in Ivey’s violent descriptions of life and the world? Perhaps when I eventually approach the publishing agencies they may want to censor a lot of what I write, but I have seen many books which go beyond what even I think is acceptable, so they might leave me alone on that matter?
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
I can’t talk about this book to many people as they often reject it as being too awful and the subject matter really is! However, they often overlook the beautiful prose and philosophy that is hidden in the pages which makes it an absolutely delightful read for me! I love the aspect of the afterlife and how emotionally connected this novel gets to become with its readers. It makes you feel what the characters feel.
It is very intense and I can understand why many people cannot tolerate that, but if you can push through the horror of this book and concentrate on Susie’s afterlife you will find that it is incredibly lovely, it is incredibly beautiful the things she does in the “before heaven” as I call it. I love the pages where the author gets lost within Susie’s playtime in the afterlife, that is my favourite, despite how weird and distasteful I found a couple of the subjects, such as experiencing a kiss whilst possessing her sisters body, that was too strange for me.
I write a lot of books about the afterlife and ghosts, as well as vampires.
The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien
I find it a fun all-rounder – there are comedy elements and basically a little bit of everything from above in the novel too, as well as being a traditional and classic version of epic fantasy. I love the mix of creatures in this novel and there be dragons too, I love dragons, one of my top five favourite creatures to write about!