Writing a Magic-Less Fantasy World. Guest Blog by C.E. Clayton
Writing a Magic-Less Fantasy World
Greetings everyone! I am author C.E. Clayton and I am so excited to be hosting the blog today! I wanted to take this opportunity to introduce you a bit to my work, as it seems to be a little unique in today’s fantasy genre. Most fantasies, whether they be epic tales, or cute middle grade fantasy stories, tend to have magic. They center on someone who can do incredible things that isn’t possible without, you guessed it, fantastic powers that don’t exist in our world. While I love those stories, and enjoy a well-crafted magic system as much as the next reader, I made a very conscious choice not to include magic in my book series.
The main reason I didn’t include magic in my world, was because I wanted my characters, and their issues, to remain grounded and, hopefully, become more relatable to readers. My main character, Tallis, experiences loss, bullying, loneliness, anxiety, and gets herself hurt by yearning for love and approval from people she shouldn’t. It would be so easy for her to wave that stuff away if she woke up one day and could suddenly make fire by snapping her fingers, or something equally as impressive. Despite some of the truly fantastic things Tallis can do that others can’t, she can’t just use a preternatural force to wave her problems away. She has to deal with her issues, and learn to live with the things life presents her.
When magic is done right, it can be such a fun experience for the reader, and one day, my fantasy worlds will involve magic of some kind. But for “The Monster of Selkirk” series, I wanted to challenge myself with removing magic, and therefore removing any opportunity for me to let magic conveniently get my characters out of trouble, or turn insurmountable odds in their favor. Because when magic systems are created poorly, they become a convenient device for an author to “explain” something complicated, or to help them get out of the hole they have written themselves into.
I didn’t even want to risk falling into that trap, so instead, I made things harder for Tallis and her friends. They have to work through their issues like (mostly) normal people. They (and I) have to explain the world in ways that are realistic and make sense for the time period, and the place they find themselves in. This makes not just my characters more relatable as they have to deal with their situation and emotions in ways that any other young adult would, but it also makes the world feel tangible and creates a place that is easy to picture in the readers mind (hint: picture Scotland).
So what makes this book a fantasy then if there isn’t any magic? The creatures in it. Tallis deals with elves who have gone feral, who will eat humans, and who no longer speak in a language anyone can understand, clacking at one another like insects. There are trees that can seep into people’s consciousness and speak to them, but not always with words. The physical abilities of the elves are things that are not possible in the real world (because, well, elves). That’s what makes my book a true young adult fantasy novel, the creatures that live within “The Monster of Selkirk’s” pages.
I hope you find my explanation interesting and you check out the series for yourself. I also love connecting with fans and other avid readers, so I hope to hear/see more of you all soon! Thank you for letting me spend some time with you today, and introducing you to “The Monster of Selkirk”.