I am pleased to have a fascinating guest post this week, written by a very supportive member of the writing community. Andrew McDowell writes fantasy fiction and contributes to short story collections. I loved his first novel, ‘Mystical Greenwood’ and enjoy his blog about writing.
Fantasy and science fiction take readers into worlds different from their own, offering supernatural and paranormal elements that are not found in everyday life. In fantasy, these elements often include magic and mythical creatures, whereas in science fiction there’s technology advanced to a new level (or taken/fallen to a terrible extreme, as in the case of dystopia).What is it about these fictional worlds that readers find so appealing?
Perhaps it is because they are so different that people are drawn to them. It is escapism. Reading, when done with pleasure, allows readers to be momentarily taken away from their own worlds. It makes sense, then, when life can sometimes feel too mundane. Having the possibility of magic or scientific advancement gives life flavor. Would people be inspired to learn more or imagine if all of life’s mysteries were solved? It was the need for such answers, to explain what could not be explained, from which sprouted mythologies and fairy tales all over the world.
But then again, we cannot totally escape from our own worlds. Perhaps, then, fantasy and science fiction, in offering us a form of escape, can be used to allow us to look at our reality and our life differently. Dystopian fiction is a fitting example—what would happen to humanity if science or the world itself went horribly wrong? One reviewer of my epic fantasy novel Mystical Greenwood described it not only as sword and sorcery, but also as an allegory of humans’ relationship with the natural world.
In conclusion, it is about seeking meaning. Mythology and modern religion have helped us find meaning in everyday life, and fantasy and science fiction take us a step further in finding meaning, and the best of these can not only do that, but also help us discover that meaning by shedding light on the present. Even to this day, there are unsolved mysteries and unexplained questions, and we’re still escaping into fantastical worlds. If we continue to have that, and if we desire something more, there will always be a need for fantasy.
Andrew McDowell became interested in writing at age 11, inspired by childhood passions for stories and make-believe. By the time he was 13, he knew he wanted to be a writer. He studied at St. Mary’s College and the University of Maryland, College Park. He is a member of the Maryland Writers’ Association.
In addition to his fantasy novel Mystical Greenwood, Andrew has also written poetry, short stories, and creative nonfiction, and he is interested in writing drama and lyrics. He was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, when he was 14.
As my new book is now a week old, I thought I would share another extract from it. This story is about two teenagers who are about to do their A-Levels when they come across a derelict country house. From that moment on their lives change for the worse as they cannot escape a feeling of constantly being watched.
Here is the snippet:
It was getting close to twilight when I called out to mum.
“I’m off to hang out with Max.”
“Alright, remember your key,” she yelled back as I undid the door that linked the garage to the kitchen.
I had picked up some crisps and other vital supplies on my way down and squeezed a bottle of lemonade into my rucksack before picking up my bike. I took a deep breath and was just about to leave when my phone started ringing. It was Max.
“Sorry man, I can’t make it,” he said with a frog in his throat. “You know how much I wanna be there. My throat has flared up and I have just been sick.”
“Oh man. That sucks,” I said shrugging my shoulders.
“Can we do it tomorrow instead?” he said with a genuine sound of someone who was not well.
“Don’t worry. We got this,” I said, putting the phone down and opening the garage up. I wheeled my bike out, clicked off the light and pulled the door down behind me. Taking a deep breath, I switched on my lights and took off.
My first stop would be the local shop. I needed to see if they had any garlic, just in case it was a vampire. Ok this was a long shot, but you have to be prepared for everything right? As I zoomed through the aisles, I soon set eyes on a clove of garlic and chucked it into my basket. Nearby they sold kitchen knives so I thought I may as well get one of those too. It would take the place of a stake just in case I needed to stick whatever was in there in its chest.
Maybe I was getting too carried away and this was starting to be me acting out my favourite movies a little, but I knew Siobhan would be pleased that I had taken precautions. To my surprise, when I got to the checkout, the cashier asked me for ID as she said I could only buy a knife if I had proof of age. Of course, that was one thing I had forgot to bring with me so I gave her the knife back and paid for the garlic. I also grabbed some cheap chocolate buttons to add to my supplies. I knew Siobhan had a soft spot for them and we might both need some instant energy during our mission. Especially if things got really scary.
I threw that idea to the back of my thoughts and got back on my bike. I didn’t want to be late and leave her waiting for me at the top of that hill. My feet ached a little as I had done some cricket practise earlier. Every time I turned the pedals they reminded me that I had fallen over trying to catch a long ball. Eventually I neared the top of the road and could see her stood next to her bike, earphones on, staring at her phone. She waved when she caught a glimpse of me.
“Hey, what took you so long?” she jested, knowing full well that we were both early.
“What you listening to?” I asked as I got off my bike and sidled up with her.
“Shawn Mendes. What else?” she replied, as if to say it was obvious.
“You know Max can’t make it? He came over sick.”
“That guy is sick. For sure,” she laughed, not really meaning it in a bad way, but equally not referring to him being cool either.
“Are you ready for this?” I asked, nervously.
Thank you for taking the time to read this short extract from my YA drama, Being Watched.