Fantasy, Culture, Patty Butties and Hull 2017

Bit of a jump since my last post. I’ve just submitted my rewrite, six months to the day since i discussed it with aforementioned Agent. I’m now trying to forget it until i get a response.

However. Much as i try to be professional and reserved, the odd day dream leaks out – smash hit reviews, sequels, publicity, dodgy picture of me clutching book in the Hull Daily Mail, film adaptation in which i star, tear-jerking dedications, etc…and then there’s 2017.

Kingston Upon Hull (where i’m from), has, as you may be aware, recently been awarded City of Culture status for 2017. In this bonanza will be showcased local art, artists, writers, even….and i’m sort of thinking, all being well…would that include me?

You see, i write what you have to call Fantasy. I don’t really want to call it that, as there are certain connotations of the word – the main one being “daft” – but that’s the market i write in. Is it cultural though? Is fantasy even relevant? Does my fantasy skylarking contribute to Hull’s cultural richness?

Culture is a big word.  Culture is everything we do and participate in that defines our actions and identities once basic physical needs are established. In Maslow’s heirarchy of needs –

Maslow's_Hierarchy_of_Needs

– ‘culture’ is up top. The apex encompasses religion and spirituality, but also sport and the arts – including literature. Culture fills what would otherwise be a ‘meaning of life?’ vaccuum at the top. Springs from it. To shoehorn some #hullyes Larkin in here – “a place cannot produce poems, it can only not prevent them”.

Now Fantasy writing, often thought of as escapist, isn’t a dearth of literature or ideas, it’s just a further dislocation of them – it still rushes into that void. What’s more, i’d say the idea of escapism is itself often miscontrued. Fantasy is never entirely removed from real culture, for although the ‘escapist’ reader might seek another world to knock about in for a while, he can’t help but drag a bit of his own world with him. And these bits of baggage not only help to flesh out the fantasy world, but in the isolation, reconfiguration and relocation offered by a fantasy setting, they enable the Fantasy framework to  hold up a mirror to our real lives, to challenge and compare it.

Just like proper literature does!

Here’s my own take on this. In a way, the City of Hull was my co-author on THE BASTARD WONDERLAND. Though fantastic, with a made up setting, the book contains certain historic, aesthetic and architectural aspects directly inspired by my home town. There are buildings here that are pretty much in the book, in a different world with a different name and a borrowed meaning.  More fundamentally though, in the character of Mr. Warboys, his Dad, the town they live in, there is the character, dialect and attitude of Hull.  His world-view, though a made up one, is a down to earth one. He is salt of the earth. He has his feet on the ground, even as fantastic things occur. Like someone growing up in Hull, Mr. Warboys has had to deal with the workmanlike expectation of the previous generation, whilst navigating an uncertain future. There are even patty butties. Mine is no history book. It’s not a book about Hull. But like me, it’s riddled with the place.

So, to hijack onother of Mr. Larkin’s #Hullyes quotes – all half decent fantasy (which i hope includes TBW) should be, like Hull, Part of the world but sufficiently removed from it to give it a certain…resonance.

So there. Shameless bid for emancipation over.

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