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Festival of Words guests talk fantasy writing, defining genre during panel

The Festival of Words hosted a panel discussing fantasy writing as a genre
FoW fantasy panel
Guest authors Wayne Arthurson, C.L. Polk, Melanie McFarlane and Hiromi Goto talk fantasy writing in a pre-recorded panel at the Festival of Words.

A selection of fantasy authors joined together to talk about how they approach writing a genre that includes anything the imagination can create, during the ongoing Saskatchewan Festival of Words.

The panel was pre-recorded, as part of a small series of sessions from the Festival of Words available for attendees to watch anytime.

Moderated by crime writer Wayne Arthurson — who said he was an avid fantasy reader excited to join the discussion — authors Melanie McFarlane, C.L. Polk and Hiromi Goto sat down to talk about the details of creating fantasy fiction.

Fantasy as a genre in the bookstore includes a large range of different types of stories, but Polk shared that when she’s working on a story, she conceptualizes “fantasy” as just one part of that work’s identity.

“I see fantasy as a genre of setting, and something like romance or mystery as a genre of plot,” said Polk. “I find them very compatible and why only write one genre if you can have four, why not?”

Goto said that she has a fascination with including fantastical elements in her stories, but doesn’t necessarily write with the intent of fitting into the mold of “fantasy.”

“I really love the idea of the ‘possible magical,’ [and] of ‘dream logic,’” said Goto. “I like to bring those kinds of qualities of being into the story, and I think it opens things up in the narrative, in interesting ways.”

For McFarlane, who’s most recent book Finders Keepers is aimed at middle-years readers, she felt like using fantastical elements in real-world settings helped create interest in her audience.

“I like to have those elements where something magical can happen in the real world,” said MacFarlane. “I just like to make you, in the end, believe that that could’ve happened.”

The Festival of Words will continue through the weekend, with an in-person concert from country-rock artist Val Halla on Saturday night, and two upcoming panels on Sunday. 

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