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Monday, March 18, 2002

I hear from George Guidall that the American Gods audiobook is nominated for an AUDIE award -- the Best Audiobooks of the Year...

I hope he wins, although considering the competition in the category we're up against I think it's anyone's guess.

Let's see...

My name is Yonatan Lew and I'm studying journalism at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. I'm doing an article for one of my classes and I wanted to ask you, as a writer of fantasy, what you think of the recent upswing of interest in fantasy, thanks to the movie releases of Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Why is now the time for fantasy to become more mainstream and what is your reaction to it?

Um, I don't see any difference, I'm afraid, in the world of fantasy pre-HarryPotterandLord oftheRingsmovies and post-HarryPotterandLord oftheRingsmovies. Other than publishers selling an awful lot more copies of Lord of the Rings in more forms than anyone would have thought possible, which is, I think, a good thing if people get something out of it, and a very good thing if, having got something out of it they go and look for more books like it.

The best reaction to the success of Lord of the Rings was in 1969, when Lin Carter piggybacked on the success of LOTR to do the Ballantine Adult Fantasy line, bringing back some of the most wonderful books ever written into print, putting great covers on them, and hooking a generation of readers into E.R. Eddison and Hope Mirrlees and Lord Dunsany, James Branch Cabell and Ernest Bramah, Mervyn Peake and George MacDonald even people as disparate as G. K. Chesterton, William Morris and William Beckford. If you liked Lord of the Rings back then and wanted more of the same then and went looking for it, there were treasures and not much else.

These days, if you like Lord of the Rings and go to the Fantasy shelves to see what else there is like that, you are apt to find some pretty gamy fare. (Yes, there's good stuff. But it's harder to find.)

[People often ask me to recommend books and authors, and I don't do it enough. As a general rule, the books on the Ballantine Adult Fantasy List were good. (You can find the complete list at http://home.epix.net/~wallison/bafs.html.) Yes, there were a few exceptions -- and, I should add, good doesn't always mean easy-to-read: when I was 14 or 15 I joined the book of the month club in order to get myself a complete Oxford English Dictionary (The 13 volumes reduced to 2 huge volumes of tiny print, which came with a magnifying glass) for much,much less than the two hundred pounds it would have cost to buy it properly, purely in order to be able to read the William Morris THE WELL AT THE WORLD'S END: he had an irritating tendency to use English words with accurate but archaic definitions I couldn't find in any dictionary I had, and I wanted to know what he was saying.]
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