Vanessa Di Gregorio
I’ve heard many people talk about how much they admire and love literary fiction. I’ve been in countless classes, studying great literary works – both classic and contemporary. I’m surrounded by many individuals who live and breathe and voraciously read works of literary fiction in my industry. And of course, the biggest and most prestigious of awards tend to lean towards the literary.
Well. That’s all fine and dandy, and I certainly have enjoyed many a literary novel, but… those aren’t usually the books that keep me up until 4 am, reading until I just can’t keep my eyes open anymore. Those aren’t the books that haunt my dreams, that I re-read over and over and over again, that have stuck with me since childhood. Those aren’t the types of stories that float around my own head, waiting to be put to paper.
You know what I’m talking about! I’m talking genre fiction. And more specifically, fantasy. Sure, many people look down on genre and see it as just popular fiction. Some scoff at it, assume there is no literary merit.
And those people are wrong.
Fantasy explores not only fantastical worlds, but the human condition. And war. And history. And relationships. And power, and consequence, and death, and life, and just about anything else you can imagine. And you know what? It’s also able to do that with beautiful prose and haunting imagery.
But even with all the love my favourite genre gets (I know a lot of you are with me on this!), it still is often thought of as fluff by some. I still see fantasy lumped into the category of “genre”, far from the “literary”. I still get the occasional eyebrow raise and uncertain half-smile from those unfortunate enough to not understand the fantastic. Really, I just pity the people who don’t understand the wonder of fantasy – the people who have lost that bit of their childhood and imagination.
But it still bothers me, just a little bit, when I notice people looking down their nose at my copy of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, or The Hobbit, or Graceling. Yeah, my book’s cover has a castle, or a sword, or a knight, or a dragon, or flame coming out of an object. Or all of those things. Because fantasy is awesome like that. Deep down, I know those haters are just plain jealous. But just in case they still don’t understand, I thought I’d write a letter to explain how I feel.
So here is my love letter to my #1 genre of choice (you know who you are!):
You are pure magic. You make my blood sing in my veins every time I look upon you. Your words take my breath away everytime you describe a new place. I dream of you, always. You take me to places I’ve never been before, worlds that I live in and breathe in and sweat in while I hold your books in my hands. You transport me from the dull, mundane world I live in to these fantastical places with miraculous creatures that take me along with them as they soar across the sky. I didn’t always know that I loved you – I even ignored you for many years, thinking you weren’t good for me. But oh, how I longed for you! Your many worlds, your fantastic heroes, your epic battles. I can’t imagine living without the laughs, the sighs, the tears of joy and sorrow.
You make the world more colourful.
You inspire me, and I will never, ever deny myself from having you.
Love forever and always,
To all you fellow genre lovers: write an ode/love letter of your own to your favourite genre. Blog about it. Wear your genre on your sleeve. And if you do blog about it, link to it in the comments so that I can read them!
Vanessa Di Gregorio works in publishing as a sales rep at Ampersand, a book and gift sales agency. She is also a former literary agency intern. When she isn’t out selling books and talking to bookstores, Vanessa can be found over at Something Geeky, Goodreads, Twitter, or writing for Paper Droids.