Today we welcome Kit Berry, author of the STONEWYLDE series for young adults. I’m currently enjoying the first of the five STONEWYLDE books, Magus of Stonewylde. Kit didn’t originally think of her series as a fantasy until it was picked up by Gollancz. She’s here to talk about that and to find out what you think about books that barely fit into the fantasy genre. One commenter from the USA will win a copy of Magus of Stonewylde.
Stonewylde, as far as I was concerned, did not fall into the Fantasy genre. Originally the first three books in the series were self-published in the UK, and had gained something of a cult following. The story is contemporary and set in the real world, but it strays into the realms of magical realism. A young girl, the victim of illness and bullying, visits a walled-off community in the middle of nowhere to find healing and respite. Rather like the isolation of an Amish settlement, things are done somewhat differently at Stonewylde and gradually the Outside World becomes irrelevant. But the apparent idyll is a façade, and slowly the darkness at the heart of Stonewylde is revealed in all its horror and cruelty. The girl overcomes her illness and falls in love – but what follows tests her to the limits of endurance.
Imagine my surprise when my literary agent took me along to Gollancz’s offices in the centre of London, and I was presented with “an offer I couldn’t refuse”! The famous publishers, renowned for sixty years of publishing the very best in science fiction and fantasy, wanted Stonewylde. They snapped up the worldwide rights to the three existing books and the final two that would complete the series. I protested that Stonewylde really wasn’t fantasy, but my new editor-to-be (whom I share with Joe Abercrombie, amongst others) assured me that it was. She was adamant; Stonewylde would be re-born as a sparkling new fantasy series, and would appeal to anyone who liked their characters dark, their story twisted, and their hearts broken.
All five Stonewylde books are now out there and I’m working on something new. It’s not fantasy, but it does contain dark elements of the supernatural. I guess I’m just not able to sit completely within a genre, but have to fidget about within several, trying to get comfortable. I would imagine that many readers are the same and don’t slavishly stick to one genre alone. So my Thoughtful Thursday question is this: what other books/series do you feel only just fit into the fantasy genre by a whisker? And does this matter?