C. S. Hand has a Masters of Philosophy in English Literature from the University of Cambridge where he studied British and German Romanticism. He is currently translating Christian Winter’s tripartite epic, Splatterism. Fantasy books are something he cherishes, and has dedicated his life to finding and translating rare and esoteric works by neglected fantasy authors.
Christian Winter studied rhetoric, speculative dialectics, and Italian Literature at Exeter College, Oxford before leaving prematurely to pursue mathematics at the University of Padua, which he considered to be “flowing with a weird oil which I will use to ignite the lamps of learning across the endless millenniums of mankind.” Plagued by a broken heart, he never made it; instead he embarked upon a nomadic existence whose peregrinations across various deserted and uninhabited Greek isles culminated in suicide in an undiscovered labyrinth below a famous ancient Greek dancing floor.
How Did You Become A Fantasy Author?
Unlike most fantasy authors, I never wanted to write. I never wanted to be a writer, or have anything to do with writing. Because I read so much growing up, I also read a lot about writers and all of them seemed to live horrible lives and die quite horrible deaths. This is exciting to read about in the preamble of a scholarly text and sympathize with fellow graduate students about over an espresso, but not exactly a fate anyone should want to live.
I have come to be a “fantasy author” in a very untraditional way. I’m not so much a fantasy writer as I am a speaker for the dead, or at least a translator of the lost. And part of what is lost, and is currently being lost, is humanity’s ability to dream, to wonder, and to believe.
I also don’t believe in the total control implied by the word author. When I’m writing, I have no idea where “I” am, and I have no idea where thoughts come from, only that they do come, but never on command, never based on any cerebral authority. I’m more akin to an Argonaut surfing the mists of subjectivity, and every now and then, I wash up on the shores of consciousness.
What Is a Fantasy Author in the 21st Century?
What I have always wanted to do is think, and I have always enjoyed thinking. Thus, the plurality of my reading has been in a field closely related to “fantasy,” the discipline today least known for its wonder, but in its inception a discipline that was intimately related with wonder—philosophy. One of the warmest apothegms in all of literature comes from a sagacious Athenian, and it reads: “Philosophy begins in wonder.” I would like to think that all my readers have this written across their hearts.
My authorship acutely raises the question of wonder in the 21st century. And because of this, it also puts the question of doubt sous rature.
Today everyone doubts, and everyone is skeptical. Skepticism has become de rigeur in our epoch. Smug postmodernists “subvert” the genres they are at work in—at least that’s what reviewers say. Skepticism has become a safe haven rather than a tool to probe, solicit, and explode hegemonies.
The corrosive acids of skepticism, pessimism, and cynicism have only destroyed the Academic English Department, and little else.
So doubt needs to be—doubted.
But what does one doubt doubt with—doubt?
Fantasy Authors That “Inspired” Me
Regrettably, it has been a very long time since I have read any modern fantasy authors. Some of my favorite fantasy authors growing up were Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis, Robert Jordan, Piers Anthony, and Brian Jacques. I read fantasy books until I had my first Latin class in 8th grade, and after that I turned to reading philosophy and literature.
The catalyst for translating my first book of fantasy literature was reading Joe Abercrombie’s darkly tinted First Law trilogy. What I learned from his work was that the philosophical pessimism and nihilism that I had been reading so much of had become attractive to a very large audience.
Another modern fantasy writer who reinforced my notion that the time was right for publishing these dowdy fantasy manuscripts was Scott Lynch. Few fantasy book covers have ever sold me, but the cover to Lynch’s Lies of Locke Lamora sold me almost instantly. Add to it that he has a brilliantly titled series, “The Gentleman Bastards” and there is essentially no reason to not purchase the book.
Which Fantasy Authors Are You Similar to?
None, I hope—but that is mostly because I have not read too many fantasy authors.
I do hope I sound like the philosophers and poets I am used to reading, for they have certainly had a hand in my writing and thinking.
My writing is lyrical, labyrinthine, full of gracious allusions to poets and philosophers of previous epochs, and gleefully deploys rhetorical devices and paranomasia.
If you enjoy the skepticism and brutality of writers such as George R. R. Martin and Joe Abercrombie you should enjoy my works, and perhaps even find them to be a refreshing departure.
If you enjoy the imagination, magic, descriptiveness, and Britishness of J. R. R. Tolkien and J. K. Rowling, I think those elements are also strongly present in my writing, and you should consider reading a chapter or two!