Tour & Giveaway: How do you take your fantasy? One Lump or Two?

February 4, 2015 Author Feature, Blog Tour, Giveaway 21

by E.L. Tettensor

How do you take your fantasy? Well me personally I like it all kinds of ways *wink* but recently I discovered E.L. Tettensor and sampled two different ways she writes fantasy and I have to say I enjoyed both immensely. Today she’s here to talk to us about fantasy and her latest book MASTER OF PLAGUES.

Master of Plagues

Tabitha’s review of MASTER OF PLAGUES coming soon!


Tabitha’s Reviews of DARKWALKER and THE BLOODBOUND

Now lets hear from the author and be sure to enter the GIVEAWAY below!


One Lump or Two?

Or, How do you take your fantasy?

One of the great things about fantasy is the sheer variety it affords. So much so that we often feel obliged to subdivide it to an almost absurd extent, carving out progressively smaller niches until the distinctions between them are so subtle as to be almost meaningless. Gaslight fantasy. Flintlock fantasy. Steampunk. Not the same, but not all that different, either. Coors Light vs. Miller Light, as opposed to Coors Light vs. Guinness. Cabernet sauvignon vs. merlot, rather than cabernet vs. champagne.

Er… excuse me for a moment, will you?

Right, I’m back. And now, glass of wine in hand, I may continue.

My point is this: the great strength of the genre is its versatility, its ability to cater to an almost limitless assortment of tastes. As an author, this is both liberating and scary. Liberating, because you can paint in any colour, as far inside or outside the lines as you like. Scary, because when you’re faced with infinite possibilities, it can be incredibly hard to choose between them. You end up like Jeremy Renner in The Hurt Locker, standing bewildered in the cereal aisle of the grocery store, paralysed by the sheer glut of choices. And the mother of all choices, the one from which every other choice springs, is this:

How much fantasy do I want in my fantasy? 

This is the first fork in the road, and it’s a doozy. Depending on the path you take, you could end up in Hogwarts with J.K. Rowling, zapping bad guys with your wand, or Under Heaven with Guy Gavriel Kay, where the only real hint of the supernatural is a bunch of angry ghosts by a lake. So, which do you choose?

There’s a lot to be said for high magic, high fantasy worlds. They spread the wings of our imagination, take us someplace fundamentally different where all things are possible. They showcase the ingenuity of the author, dazzling us with the sheer inventiveness, the richness, of what they’ve created.

But I think there’s a lot to be said for low magic worlds too. No surprise, since that’s what I tend to write. Both the Lenoir and the Bloodbound series are comparatively light on fantasy. No elves or goblins or dragons. No light-slinging warlocks. The supernatural is there, but it’s often more implied than seen, a dark undercurrent that threatens to break the surface at any moment. The Lenoir series, in particular, has just a dash of the supernatural. It’s the cherry on the sundae, rather than the crust of the pie.

It’s a choice I made consciously, one that reflects my own interests as a reader. I enjoy stories set in worlds very like our own, but subverted just enough to keep the reader off-balance. It’s familiar enough that you can slide right in, but different enough that there’s never any question that you’re not in Kansas. There’s no need for info-dumps or excessive worldbuilding, because we’ve been here before, more or less. But we’re disoriented too, a little wary, like a dream where something’s not quite right. Because the supernatural elements are there, lurking just below the surface. And when they do break through, it’s all the more jarring because it’s rare.

As an added bonus, this approach can also make the characters more compelling, because they’re often experiencing all this for the first time too. When Lenoir steps into Merden’s shop and finds himself surrounded by the macabre accoutrements of dark magic, he’s as unsettled as we are. He has no idea what to expect, and neither do we. This shared experience strengthens the bond between hero and reader. This effect can be achieved in high fantasy worlds too, but it’s tougher; you have to make your hero an outsider of some kind, and not every book can be about outsiders.

It’s entirely possible that I’ll branch out into high fantasy one day, but for now, I’m finding plenty of great toys to play with closer to home. So I’ll take one lump in my tea for now; your mileage may vary.


Giveaway for a print copy of MASTER OF PLAGUES by E.L. Tettensor. Sorry US residents only folks!

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tettensor lindsey author

E.L. Tettensor likes her stories the way she likes her chocolate: dark, exotic, and with a hint of bitterness. She has visited more than fifty countries on five continents, and brought a little something back from each to press inside the pages of her books. She is also the author of the Bloodbound series, writing as Erin Lindsey. She lives with her husband in Bujumbura, Burundi.

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Tabitha (Pabkins)

When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!
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21 Responses to “Tour & Giveaway: How do you take your fantasy? One Lump or Two?”

  1. Jessica @ Rabid Reads

    I completely agree that the subgenres are getting a bit out of control. The only things I ask a book marketed as fantasy to have are:

    1. A world–any world–that does not exist.
    2. Some kind of magic. Don’t care what kind, don’t care how much.

    Okay, that’s not true. Everyone has preferences. I tend to prefer higher magic versions of fantasy (Wheel of Time), but if the characters are compelling (Shattered Sea), I don’t care. What irks the fire out of me is the rare occasion that a book is publicized as fantasy, but doesn’t have some version of both the aforementioned elements. It’s misleading. Fortunately, that’s only happened once. But if it becomes a thing, it will be the one subgenre that I absolutely insist on having, LOL.

    Great post. REALLY need to start this series.
    Jessica @ Rabid Reads recently posted…Blog Tour Stop, Review and Giveaway: Dearest by Alethea KontisMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      I completely agree with the two things you ask for! And I know exactly which book you are talking about that misled you on the fantasy magic element. I don’t mind all the sub genre tags tho in guess I don’t pay attention to all of them. Like I haven’t tried flintlock fantasy. And I guess I don’t always pay attention to what they are categorized as anyway lol.
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…Art it Up! (43) – Monstrous & Impulse buyingMy Profile

  2. Lark @ The Bookwyrm's Hoard

    I love this essay!

    Mercedes Lackey (among others) points out that fantasy can encompass any other genre. You can have fantasy mysteries, fantasy romance, fantasy Westerns, fantasy sci-fi (think of the Lunar Chronicles blending technology and the Lunars’ “glamor”)… you name it, if you can write it outside of fantasy, you can write it as fantasy. It’s a very broad and elastic genre. Maybe that’s why people feel the need to divvy it up into subgenres?

    Not that subgenre terms don’t have their uses, of course. If a book is described as urban fantasy, I know to expect something closer to my time and place with paranormal and possibly magical elements added (Hearne’s Iron Druid series, perhaps) rather than a high-fantasy medieval/Renaissance milieu with dragons (Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina). If I prefer something more Victorian, I’m going to want steampunk or gaslight. The subgenres aren’t rigid; they’re more like useful shorthand terms to suggest what flavor of fantasy you’ll find inside – or, if you prefer, whether it has one lump of fantasy or two.

    As for what I prefer… I love high and/or epic fantasy, but I’m flexible. In the last few years, I’ve read urban fantasy (Keri Arthur, Kevin Hearne, Jim Hines’ Libriomancer series, etc.), sci-fi fantasy (the Lunar Chronicles), high epic fantasy (Kristen Britain’s Green Rider books), picaresque high fantasy (Patrick Rothfuss), retold fairytales (Mercedes Lackey, the aforementioned Lunar Chronicles, Alethea Kontis, Jessica Day George), gaslight and/or steampunk (the Stoker and Holmes series), fantasy romance (Robin Owens’ Celta novels), futuristic paranormal romantic suspense (Jayne Castle’s Harmony novels) – and enjoyed pretty much all of it. I guess I’m just a fantasy junky!
    Lark @ The Bookwyrm’s Hoard recently posted…20 Questions with The Bookwyrm’s HoardMy Profile

    • Tabitha (Pabkins)

      I am totally a fantasy junkie as well and love all kinds. Like you I find the sub genres useful so I have an idea of what I’m getting. It doesn’t have to be a specific fit for that sub genre either, just kind of gives you an idea for theme or setting which I like cause I’m usually in a specific mood for one type or another.
      Tabitha (Pabkins) recently posted…Art it Up! (43) – Monstrous & Impulse buyingMy Profile

  3. Cristina

    I like fantasy in general and while I am branching out in it’s different sub-genres…it gets to be confusing after a while. Truthfully, whatever it’s called, as long as it has the element of fantasy (high, low or somewhere in between) I’m happy. It’s all about having my imagination stretched beyond what I think is possible. Such a great post! Seriously! 😉

    Will have to start this series soon!
    Cristina recently posted…The Darkest Part of the Forest by Holly BlackMy Profile

  4. Rita @ View From My Home

    I love the occasional fantasy that is not an UF, mostly because those tend to nowadays focus on zombies, vampires, weres, etc when I am looking for something different. I love high fantasy, epic, low fantasy, and dark fantasy though. Thanks for the chance; I was a lurker here for months, now a new follower 🙂
    Rita @ View From My Home recently posted…2 10-Second ReviewsMy Profile

  5. E.L. Tettensor

    Thanks, everyone!

    I think anything that takes place in a secondary world has to qualify as fantasy, even if it doesn’t have any magic in it. That being said, I do prefer at least a hint of magic.

    I like high fantasy too, but it’s not my favourite flavour. For instance, I’m reading the Fionavar Tapestry at the moment, and it’s so high it could give you a nosebleed. I’m enjoying it, but I have a feeling I’ll be exhausted by the end.

    My main beef with the sub-genres is that they tend to be quite superficial. They tell you more about what the characters will be wearing than they do about the substance of the story. With the result that, as Kameron Hurley has pointed out, we get away with recycling essentially the same story over and over simply by kicking it over to a different sub-genre. So now it’s the same Awakening an Ancient Evil story, but with jaunty hats and dirigibles! That feels vaguely fraudulent to me. Personally, I don’t think it matters a damn whether Lenoir is running around with a flintlock or lightsabre or a pointed stick, what counts is that it’s a redemption story set in a dark, low-magic world.

    Your mileage may vary, of course.

    For those who are interested, I’ve got a guest post going up on next week where I go in depth on this, and offer a different way of thinking about genre (and sub-genre). Food for thought, I hope. It should be up on Wednesday, I think. Drop by and join the discussion!

  6. [email protected]

    Great post: sharp, synthetic and to the point.

    ((quote))The supernatural is there, but it’s often more implied than seen, a dark undercurrent that threatens to break the surface at any moment.((unquote))

    This is exactly what I like, the “magical”, the… other (for want of a better word) visible just at the periphery of your vision. One of the components of the world I’m visiting, but not the main one, not the “deus ex machina” that too easily solves the hurdles facing the characters.
    [email protected] recently posted…Tough Traveling: EVIL LAIRSMy Profile

  7. Jamie

    I prefer the classic fantasy still. Often medieval, lots of magic and fantasy creatures. I am pickier about urban fantasy in particular especially if it is too grounded in this world. Bottom line for me is to take me away from reality. The further, the better!
    Jamie recently posted…Discuss- Reading challenges and readathonsMy Profile

  8. Liza Barrett

    Oh, this is a great post. I tend to read just about ANYTHING with a fantasy element. Some of my favorites are the “light” fantasy mentioned above, but some of my favorites are all-out complete fantasy through and through. And everything in between. I tend to have a certain favorite sub-genre at any given time — that favorite wanders a bit, but it’s normally rooted in the urban fantasy world.

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