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Why, you ask…?

Wow, the finale of book 3: Curse of the Goddess is a gargantuan clash, littered with epic confrontations, and awash with titanic struggles! As books go, it’s really dark, certainly the darkest I have personally written. It is said, however, that it is always darkest before the dawn, so all that remains to be seen is whether our beloved heroes have the fortitude to stand fast for the duration of the trilogy, and survive with life and limb intact to see another sunrise. Only time will tell…We are only weeks away from completion and publication so hold tight, we’re almost there!

Today I thought I’d write a little about the allure of Urban Fantasy – at least, from the perspective of someone who writes in the genre. Over the years I’ve also written epic fantasy, grim-dark fantasy, sci-fi and once even some Terry Pratchett-esque comedic fantasy. So why did I choose Urban Fantasy as the setting for my first published series?

Personally, I enjoy the blend of familiar and fantastic. I love the idea that the old decrepit house on the corner that every neighborhood child KNOWS has a witch in it, actually HAS a witch in it…. or what if the bent branches in the wood that form a perfect round doorway next to the path actually led somewhere, other than behind the tree?

Urban fantasy allows us to explore our past. I did a course in Myth when I studied at University, and one standout memory I have was the realization of how real our myths were for many who believed in them in the past. Imagine, as a thought experiment, we could bring these myths alive in a modern day setting. How would the modern man and woman adjust to this new paradigm? Urban fantasy is one way to explore the answer. In one sense, it puts us in the shoes of our ancestors and makes our past more relatable.

In a phrase that I believe captures more about the reasons for fantasy literature in general than any other, CS Lewis wrote “Since it is so likely that (children) will meet cruel enemies, let them at least have heard of brave knights and heroic courage. Otherwise you are making their destiny not brighter but darker.” I believe that fantasy literature does this, in fact, it is one of the foremost aims of the genre. Yes, to entertain, but also to give us dragons to face and to show us they can be defeated.

Somewhat incidentally and tangential to the point of the discussion, Jordan Peterson has some nice videos around men needing dragons to face, in their process of claiming their identity as men. If fantasy can help us to believe that dragons can be overcome, then can it not help men believe they can achieve what life will most certainly demand of them? I think that it can.

Urban fantasy certainly does this, and in a setting that is similar, but at the same time, different. Not only can it inspire with myths familiar, but also with mysteries exotic. In Urban Fantasy, we get to explore the world we live in and pose the question “What if?”

What if Magic was real, or the gods walked amongst us, and ancient prophecies were real? What if organizations had webbed a network of influence throughout the world and they controlled more of our lives than we ever thought possible? Of course, it’s a playground for conspiracy theories about the past and the present, but what a safe space to explore possibilities!

Most of all, of course – outside of the myth, the inspiration, the exploration of our past and the asking of questions around what could be, I like Urban fantasy because it is fun and also just so relatable. Sticking with CS Lewis, I think that the standout appeal of his famous novels, is that it was regular children that got to go into Narnia, and all they had to do was walk into a cupboard. Fantasy was only a room away, and any child could be chosen to find it. What an alluring thought to anyone seeking adventure in their life – the blend of a powerful ‘what if’ alongside the normal, and the mundane. A heady mix, heavy with potential – fantasy tightly linked into the world in which we live. Thank you Clive Staples Lewis, for paving the way for Urban Fantasy!

So what do you find fantastic about Urban Fantasy?

Until next week, keep well and keep reading!

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