The Sub-Genres of British Fantasy Literature

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Fantasy readers will be familiar with AJ Dalton’s work. His Chronicles of a Cosmic Warlord and The Flesh and Bone Trilogy have been incredibly successful. But it’s not just fiction for Adam: his non-fiction work is just as good. 14/2/17 is the release date of “The Sub-Genres of British Fantasy Literature”, an easy to read exegesis that will shed some light on the many genres and sub-genres of fantasy.

AJ DaltonKL: When did you know you wanted to be a writer? Was there a precise point in time, or did it happen gradually?
AJD: I blame the parents, myself! They encouraged writing from a really early age, and so did my primary school. I was sending material to publishers from the age of 15… although it took me till I was 37 to get a book deal. Practice makes perfect, and all that.

KL: Who was your favourite author, growing up?
AJD: Well, I read Raymond E. Feist’s ‘Magician’ at the age of 15. Once I’d read that, it was only fantasy literature from then on!

KL: You have a series deal with Gollancz, one of the biggest publishers in the market. How did that come about?
AJD: I self-published the first new-wave zombie book (‘Necromancer’s Gambit’) in 2008. Six months later, Twilight hit the cinema and the sub-genre of ‘dark fantasy’ was born. The only other dark fantasy book in Waterstones at the time was Necromancer’s Gambit, so it started selling really well. It was based on those sales stats that Gollancz gave me a book deal (for Empire of the Saviours). I got lucky really, although you could say I made my own luck by self-publishing and putting my money where my mouth was.

KL: You are credited with the invention of the term ‘metaphysical fantasy’. Can you explain to us what it is and why you felt the need to introduce such a term?
AJD: Well, one of the reasons for coining the term was simply to give myself some sort of ‘fresh’ brand. Also, the term described how my work was different from the formulaic epic fantasy books that were dominating the second-world fantasy scene at the time. My books subvert the usual motifs of epic fantasy, making everything more gothic. Kings are not noble and enlightened in my books, and many of the gods are malign. What this creates is quite a different set of philosophical and social themes in my work.

KL: Your latest book, “The Sub-genres of British Fantasy Literature” (Luna Press Publishing), will be out on Valentine’s day. Tell us about it.
AJD: There are a lot of fantasy sub-genres out there, and their labels are often confusing. So, Tolkien wrote ‘high fantasy’, Eddings wrote ‘epic fantasy’, Neil Gaiman writes ‘urban fantasy’, Stephanie Meyer writes ‘dark fantasy’, R. Scott Bakker and myself write ‘metaphysical fantasy’, Peter V. Brett writes ‘grimdark’, and so on. What my book “The Sub-genres of British Fantasy Literature” does is define those sub-genres by referring to the specific socio-political moments that gave rise to each of them and by describing the leading works, writers and themes of each of the sub-genres. Basically, the book represents the results of the research I undertook in completing my PhD in fantasy for Huddersfield University. But it’s fun and accessible.

KL: More fiction on the horizon?
AJD: Sure, I’ll always write (cos it’s something of a calling/personal need), but that doesn’t mean it’ll always get published. I’ve just put out ‘I Am a Small God’, a great little historical fantasy. And I’ve got ‘The Book of Dragons’ coming out with Kristell Ink soon, a follow-up to ‘The Book of Angels’. And I’m tinkering with ‘The Skeleton Mage’, but who knows if anyone will want it?

“The Sub-genres of British Fantasy Literature” will be released on the 14th of February 2017, by Luna Press Publishing.


 furby_toyKitty loves books, space, fiction, frogs, furry animals and coffee. A lot of coffee. Fantasy, SF and Dark Fantasy have cocooned her world since the Mesolithic period. And she likes it like that.