Blog: Maps, Games and Children’s Fiction

It’s funny how quickly time can slip away from you when you’re busy. I can’t believe it has been almost three weeks since my last post!

I’ll present you with my excuses…

First, I was working on some fantasy map commissions for two clients. They are each vastly different styles, so I’ve been alternating between them over the last few weeks, trying to get those towards completion. Hopefully I’ll be able to share those on deviantArt and on my Portfolio, too.

Second, I was trying my hand at another map, mainly for fun, which harkens back to the antique/Tolkien style I used to use a few years ago. I’ll post it below. People seem to really love this style, so I’m going to be focusing on that type of map for my next couple of projects.

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The Inkitt “Darkest Place” Horror Contest 2015

Today I want to bring your attention to a great website called Inkitt. I was contacted by Lauren, who is head of the author’s community over on Inkitt, and asked if I would write a post to tell you all about the writing competition they are running in February. Of course, I was happy to get involved!

What is Inkitt?
Inkitt is a free platform for writers to cultivate ideas and watch their stories grow. On our site, users collaborate with fellow writers and readers to give each other feedback and improve their work. Our vision is to help writers get the exposure they deserve and the publishing deals they covet without having to jump through the fiery hoops of traditional publishing, or wade in the shark-infested waters of self-publishing.

I love the idea behind websites like Inkitt. They are great places to share fiction with a whole community of like-minded people and can sometimes act as a great platform to get your writing seen by agents or publishers.

So, without further ado, here is all the information you need to know about Inkitt’s “Darkest Place” Horror Contest…

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Elements of Fantasy #3 – Language

Welcome to another episode of Elements of Fantasy! Last time, we talked about The Quest and looked at why the hero’s journey is so prevalent in fantasy fiction. In this episode, we’ll be exploring Language…

Google ‘fictional languages’ and you’ll turn up hundreds of references to the fantasy genre, as well as equal amounts of references to Klingons. Fantasy is a genre that has become intrinsically linked with language, whether we’re talking about complex, working languages such as quenya and sindarin, or piecemeal, ‘flavour’ languages like Valyrian or Thalassian.

dwarven runes

The tradition of inventing languages for use in fantasy fiction can be traced back to our old friend J.R.R. Tolkien (like so many things). The practice may even pre-date Tolkien, but he is regarded as the first to have constructed a fully-functioning language with its own writing system. Quenya and sindarin are elvish languages that feature in Tolkien’s works and they are taught today as fully-realised languages.

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Fantasy In Motion’s 3rd Anniversary

I don’t have a punchy title today, so this will have to suffice. I want to talk about the blog itself today, share some updates and be unashamedly self-indulgent!

This month marked my 3-year anniversary with WordPress, meaning I’ve been blogging for quite a while in one form or another (perhaps with a teenie weenie hiatus). Over that period, I’ve experimented with other blogs, but I’ve always returned to Fantasy In Motion. I have a really great readership here and what’s great is many of you frequently comment and link through to my posts.

We’ve seen some redesigns over the years. I used to have a compulsion to constantly change things around, try new things and design new logos, buttons etc. We’ve had ill-fated “Champion Posts”, an interview with a fictional pony and even our own webcomic. Since then, I’m pleased to say I’ve adopted the mantra of ‘keep it simple, stupid’. If the content is good, people will come.

The Force

I’d like to share a few of the blog’s old logos at the end of this post, so scroll down for some nostalgia.

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Middle-earth: Lamenting the Adventure

Over the weekend I finally got the chance to see the final Hobbit movie, The Battle of Five Armies. In a strange mirror to my experience with the Lord of the Rings movie trilogy, I only watched the last two parts at the cinema. I think that the cinema experience adds to films like these. They are lent an additional depth as you sit in a vast, quiet, dark space and focus on the movie and nothing else for the best part of three hours. You can almost imagine yourself seated in a hall in the depths of Erebor, peering out at events unfolding on the surface.

But today I don’t want to talk about movies, as such. I want to talk about a very important theme that Tolkien’s work seems to invoke. A theme that the movies by Peter Jackson replicate perfectly, and perhaps even convey better than the books.

I’m referring to the adventure, the journey, and how we are made to lament their coming to an end.

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How Ideas Die on the Tongue

Just a short post today, but one with a very important message!

As writers we spend a lot of time thinking. Thinking about characters. Thinking about setting. Thinking about plot. But a lot of this early thinking will usually be focused on ideas. We think of something interesting and then we go about our daily lives, still thinking about and expanding on this initial idea.

Then, it will usually go one of three ways:

  1. The idea turns out to be a dead end. We abandon it and move on to the next interesting idea.
  2. The idea turns out to be really good. We incorporate it into our project or create a whole new project around this idea. It becomes something exciting. Exciting enough to write about.
  3. We think the idea is so great, so utterly ingenious, that we have to share it with someone. Against our better judgement, we corner a loved one or a friend and we flood their ears with our primordial, unspoken idea.

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Blog: In Defence of Saladin Ahmed

This is the first in what I’m going to call my ‘blogging series’. I’m aware that I run a blog, so technically every post is ‘blogging’. However, most of my posts tend to be less about me and my opinions and more about topics. They’re more magazine-y in style, because that’s the type of content I enjoy reading.

So, from time to time, I’ll write a true ‘blog post’ which I’ll use to discuss myself and issues that I want to talk about and share my opinion on. Hopefully you guys will read them and enjoy them just as much as my other content.

Today I want to talk about a certain fantasy author called Saladin Ahmed who broke onto the scene in 2012 with Throne of the Crescent Moon. It was a fantastic book and I even reviewed it for this blog. So late last year I decided to go looking for the sequel (assuming there was one). Much to my disappointment I found nothing on Amazon and nothing in my local bookshop either. I decided to check out Mr. Ahmed’s website in December last year and I finally found answers.

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Taking Aggro: Shields in Fantasy

If you’ve ever played any kind of RPG, you’ll probably be familiar with the concept of ‘tanking’. Basically, because nobody except a warrior is allowed to wear decent armour or carry a bit of metal to stop their arms from being lopped off, they have to keep their cloth-clad, squishy bodies out of the way of enemy steel.

If you do have the good fortune to be a warrior in your fantasy realm of choice, you’ll be further subdivided into two groups: those who deal damage (DPS) and those who take it (Tank). But if you want to ascend to the illustrious position of ‘tank’, you usually need to own a shield. And not just any shield – a nice big one that you can barely see around, adorned with fire-breathing lion heads and more spikes than an acupuncturist’s utility belt.

Shields in RPG’s have been reduced down to their very basic form. They are solely the tools of the tanking warrior, who uses them to block, bash and occasionally even throw. But if we overlook the ridiculousness of a warrior throwing his shield at the charging enemy and then expecting it to boomerang and return to his waiting hand, we are left with a very versatile piece of weaponry being used for precisely two purposes.

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Fantasy In Motion Returns! (And An Update)

That’s right, I’m wading back into the fray and taking up the blogging reins once more. I did a brief stint on a new blog, Epically Written, and then decided to focus on another hobby of mine: fantasy mapmaking. Just last year I got a few commissions from various folks which was fantastic. If you’re interested in maps at all, you can check out my work on DeviantArt.

Anyway, I’ve resolved to fling myself back into blogging and stick at it this time. This blog has gained a huge following since I established it. I get Twitter messages praising the blog and asking me to update it. My posts get mentioned and linked to fairly often. And most importantly, I’m proud of the content I’ve written for the blog.

What I intend to do with Fantasy In Motion from now on is focus on three “pillars”:

  1. Writing Discussion – This is the foundation that this blog was built on, so I’ll continue to blog about the process of writing. I want to move away from “advice” articles, though. I’m not a published author, so I would feel uncomfortable advising others how to write. My posts on writing will discuss my own experiences with the craft and try to share nuggets of wisdom here and there.
  2. Fantasy Fiction – I’m going to be bringing fiction itself to the fore, by which I mean novels, those who write them and those who publish them. I want to talk about books more, because fantasy books are a great passion of mine. Heck, I want to publish my own someday!
  3. SFF Genre – By this I mean the sci-fi/fantasy genre as a whole. Anything and everything goes.

So this was just a quick post to let you all know I’m back and ready to get stuck in again. I gave the blog a little makeover too, so I hope you like the new look. I’ll be posting up the first “proper” article very soon, so stay tuned!

Elements of Fantasy #2 – The Quest

Welcome to the second in the Elements of Fantasy series! Last time, we talked about Wizards, Warlocks and Witches (and magic users in general). In this episode, we look at the Fantasy Quest…

I want to start off by talking about, what is for me, the quintessential fantasy quest. I’m talking about The Hobbit. I know, I know, I must mention Tolkien in one way or another in many of my posts! I love Middle-earth and I love the stories set there – it’s as simple as that.

So, The Hobbit. One of the first ever fantasy books I read as a child, I remember being captivated from the first page. Essentially, it is the story of a man who lives in a secluded and somewhat xenophobic community and is taken out of his comfort zone when he is dragged along on an epic journey to the other side of Middle-earth to face off against a dragon. As expected, Bilbo Baggins is not a very willing participant in this quest, nor is he the kind of hero who enjoys being away from his home comforts. But as the story progresses and Bilbo has to face ever more terrifying enemies and difficult obstacles, he slowly grows into his new persona and even finds himself enjoying the adventure. After the quest, he returns home a changed hobbit and the rest is history.

The Hobbit

It’s the stuff that great childhood fantasy is made of. Little people with hairy feet? Check. Little people with beards (and most likely hairy feet)? Check. Wizard? Check. Dragon? Check. I could go on. But at the heart of the story, when you strip it back to basics, there lies the simple tale of a reluctant and unlikely hero on a quest to steal a dragon’s treasure. Continue reading

Author Interview: Jen Williams

Just a couple of weeks ago, I posted an article discussing my most anticipated fantasy debuts of 2014. That article had a fantastic response and I’m so pleased that I am able to introduce these new authors to those of you who hadn’t yet heard about them. One of those new authors is Jen Williams, whose novel The Copper Promise is released in just under a week’s time.

Author Photo

Following that, I’m pleased to report that Jen has kindly agreed to give an interview for Fantasy In Motion! So, without further ado, here is what transpired…

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Hi Jen, thanks for joining us today.

I wanted to start this interview talking about you as a writer. When did you first know you wanted to write fantasy? What inspired you to take that path?

I’ve always leaned towards fantasy. When I was a kid I refused to read books that were set in our world, or involved normal kids doing normal things. My very first stories, always heavily illustrated by me, were about dragons, pirates, and secret treasure – so not a lot has changed. I loved stories set in strange lands, in places that didn’t exist in our world, and as I got older I became more interested in mythology and folklore. When I first started thinking about writing a book I didn’t even question what genre it would be; fantasy has always been the place where anything could happen, and I found that deeply appealing. With The Copper Promise, I had quite suddenly fallen back in love with traditional fantasy, and it occurred to me that I’d never really written anything like that. I wondered what would happen if I embraced the kind of fantasy I’d grown up loving, and the book was the result of that.

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The New Wave: Fantasy Debuts in 2014

As promised in my previous article Fantasy: What’s Next? these are my most anticipated fantasy debuts coming in 2014. If you have any recommended reads for this year, please share them in the comments below. I hope you enjoy!

(These are in no particular order!)

#1 – Traitor’s Blade (The Greatcoats) by Sebastian de Castell

It’s being marketed as Joe Abercrombie crossed with Alexandre Dumas. Heroic fantasy with a streak of darkness. Plus, some awesome cover art makes this a compelling debut.

Traitor's Blade

Falcio is the first Cantor of the Greatcoats. Trained in the fighting arts and the laws of Tristia, the Greatcoats are travelling Magisters upholding King’s Law. They are heroes. Or at least they were, until they stood aside while the Dukes took the kingdom, and impaled their King’s head on a spike.

Now Tristia is on the verge of collapse and the barbarians are sniffing at the borders. The Dukes bring chaos to the land, while the Greatcoats are scattered far and wide, reviled as traitors, their legendary coats in tatters.

All they have left are the promises they made to King Paelis, to carry out one final mission. But if they have any hope of fulfilling the King’s dream, the divided Greatcoats must reunite, or they will also have to stand aside as they watch their world burn…

Release Date: 6th March 2014

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Fantasy: What’s Next?

Well, that’s the title done. Ten minutes to come up with that! Would you believe it? This is one of those posts where I know exactly what I want to say, but I struggle to find a title to do it justice.

Anyway, onto the topic at hand. I want to talk about the fantasy genre right now and look ahead at what I think we can expect from our fantastic fiction in the near future. It feels like the last decade has been a kind of “fantasy dark ages”. Not in the sense that we’ve had no innovation, but in the sense that I feel a great big grey cloud has been hanging over us, stifling our creativity. I speak, of course, about the phenomenon that was gritty/grimdark fantasy. I don’t want to spend too much time talking about this. I’ve already done that elsewhere.

Now, I’m absolutely not saying I don’t like this kind of fantasy yarn. I was an Abercrombie fan right from the off. I love A Song of Ice and Fire (epic fantasy, but I consider it gritty nonetheless) And I’m a bit of a Warhammer Fantasy fan too. Basically, this type of fantasy was original when it started to rear its head. I’m not saying Joe Abercrombie and George R. R. Martin are the same, either, but they could be loosely categorised under a similar grouping.


The problem, though, that I have with this sub-genre of fantasy is that it can all take quite the emotional toll. There are only so many times I can stomach reading a graphic torture scene or a battle where people are being eviscerated and dismembered all over the place. In fact, I’d even go so far as to say that I don’t really enjoy this sort of stuff. I read this type of fantasy for the flawed characters, for the disturbingly human conflicts and for the quality of the writing. I don’t enjoy gore for the sake of gore. I know that this is the reality of war and of violence, but it can be executed with a lightness that doesn’t turn the reader’s stomach. Continue reading