Welcome to Day 3 of the Fellowship of Fantasy Writers Blog Tour. Today we are honored to welcome British author, Viv Sang, who talks about the path that lead her to fantasy.
I can remember writing a story about a dog when I was quite small. I know I was small because I spelled ‘of’ as ‘ov’ all the way through. I can’t actually remember how old I was though.
Later, at school, I enjoyed writing stories. If we were given an essay which was mainly descriptive, I did not enjoy it nearly as much. I remember that I once wrote a story of 20 pages in my exercise book. I enjoyed doing it. I have no idea how my teacher enjoyed marking it, though! I remember that I got a good mark for it.
Later, in my teens, I wrote a ‘book’. It was a romantic story about a group of girls going on holiday to Italy and meeting a group of Italian boys and some English boys. It all ended tragically though, as the main Italian boy was killed in a car crash when visiting his English girlfriend.
Reading has always been a passion of mine. My mother used to say that you could forget about talking to me if I had my head in a book. Story telling seemed to follow this quite naturally. I told myself stories all the time, but only myself. I think this changed when I started playing Dungeons and Dragons, but here I am getting ahead of myself.
I trained as a teacher in Manchester, and while on my second teaching practice, which was in a junior school in Irlam, just outside Manchester, I was teaching a class of 9 year olds. At the end of one lesson, a boy, with the wonderful name of Fred Spittal, came up to me with a book in his hand.
‘Have you ever read this, Miss?’ he asked.
I replied that I hadn’t. The book in question was one of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
‘Well.’ said Fred. ‘you should. It’s very good, but you ought to read The Hobbit first as it sets the scene for these books.’
A few weeks later I was in the college library and I saw The Hobbit on the shelf. Of course I got it out and was immediately hooked. I read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, then the C.S. Lewis books. There was little else in fantasy at that time though.
Many years later, I was teaching at a secondary school in Croydon, London, when a couple of my colleagues started talking about Dungeons and Dragons. I said I’d always wanted to play and so they suggested I join them in a game with several other members of staff. We played each lunchtime until they both left the school and then I became the DM and started a club for the pupils. It was during this time that I created a scenario that I called The Hunt for Sauvern’s Sword. During this time I also discovered the Dragonlance Chronicles, which I also enjoyed tremendously. I would also recommend Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time and Brandon Sanderson’s Mistwraith books. There are so many fantasy writers who have influenced me. Robin Hobb, Marian Zimmer Bradley, Terry Pratchett, Terry Brooks, Susan Cooper, Stephen Donaldson, David Eddings to mention just a few.
During the summer one year I decided to turn this scenario into a book. There was no thought of putting it into print at this time, though. I wrote during the holidays between exam marking and lesson planning. When I retired I found the time to finish it.
I don’t think that many of my players would recognise it now though. When writing it, it took on a life of its own, and the characters had quite a lot to say in its development. I am sure that any authors reading this will understand what I mean. Perhaps non-authors will wonder about it. Characters can suddenly say or do something that you had not planned. This certainly happened a number of times, especially a revelation made by my young thief! I believe that Tolkien had no intention of putting Boromir’s brother in The Lord of the Rings, but he ‘came wandering out of the forest of Illian.’
What was intended to be a single book has now morphed into several under the title of The Wolves of Vimar. As yet I don’t know exactly how many books there will be. The first two are available from Amazon, (The Wolf Pack and The Never-Dying Man.) The third will be published, I hope, early next year. I am also working on a novel based in Roman Britain and I have a recipe book in print too.
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