Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Guest Post: Ty Johnson on genre and acceptance

A guest post today by Ty Johnson, author of Ghosts of the Asylum.

Ghosts of the Asylum by Ty Johnson

Fantasy author Ty Johnston’s blog tour 2011 is running from November 1 through November 30. His novels include City of Rogues, Bayne’s Climb and More Than Kin, all of which are available for the Kindle, the Nook and online at Smashwords.

His latest novel, Ghosts of the Asylum, will be available for e-books on November 21. To find out more, follow him at his blog

Fandom has come a long way since I was a kid. Back in those days, the 1970s, it was still considered uncool to read fantasy novels, to watch science fiction TV shows, or to take part in speculative fiction fandom in just about any manner. Even reading comic books was kid stuff to be frowned upon by adults.

In my opinion, the popularity of Star Wars and early video games helped to change this somewhat. Then in the early ’90s the Internet came along and video game technology jumped by leaps and bounds, opening the floodgates for geeks and nerds and fanboys to step into the spotlight.

Oddly enough, I never considered myself much of a geek, nerd or fanboy. No, while growing up I wasn’t the manliest man among my neighborhood kids, and I did spend plenty of hours and hours reading Tolkien and Terry Brooks and whatever other fantasy authors I could discover. I even played Dungeons & Dragons. But, I also took part in the more traditional exploits of boys. I played kickball. At an older age I played football and soccer. I hung out. I got in the occasional fight. I tried my first cigarette and drank my first beer. I did the usual macho stuff boys did to prove their manhood to their friends and themselves.

So, no, I didn’t think of myself as geeky.

Later, as I entered my college years, I put most of that thinking behind me. I had important stuff to do, a degree to earn so I could get out in the real world and find a job. I was becoming an adult, or so I thought. The world of fantastical literature wasn’t completely put behind me, but it was on the fringes of my life at the time.

Once I entered the professional world as a newspaper journalist, I initially found I had little time for pursuits outside of the workplace. Newspapers became my life.

Until I discovered a handful of co-workers who were not only gamers, but budding fantasy writers themselves. Most of these folks were slightly older than myself, and they had grown up in a culture slightly different from my own (they were from “up North” whereas I am a Kentucky boy). Suddenly I found I could indulge in my whims and still feel like an adult.

Eventually, because of the economy, I was forced into changing careers. At that point, I decided to return to my childhood roots, to build upon my love for fantastical literature. I made fiction writing my new career. It wasn’t easy, and often still is not, but I’ve managed with the help of an understanding spouse.

By this point, I felt fantasy literature and the other speculative genres had gained acceptance by the general populace at large. And why not? Many of the top movies were science fiction or fantasy. The modern video game market teems with horror, fantasy and science fiction stories, characters and other elements. Even genre conventions, once only attended by those in the business or hardcore fans, had gained in popularity and were being attended by thousands upon thousands.

Let me add here that while I never felt like a fantasy geek, I also never had any derision for those who were labeled such, by themselves or others. I guess I had always walked a fine line between two worlds, that of the speculative fiction nerd and ... well, everybody else, so I sort of had a foot in both camps.

Back to my adulthood. As I was saying, I was feeling that speculative fiction and fandom of such had finally gained acceptance by the masses.

My thoughts on that matter changed when I wrote and released a non-speculative novel, More Than Kin. Yes, my non-speculative novel. More Than Kin deals with a dying man’s search for his long-lost son and the connections he makes with new friends toward the end of his life. I think it’s a pretty good novel, and those who have read it have told me they enjoyed it.

Why did the release of More Than Kin change my feelings about acceptance of the speculative genres? Because I started receiving e-mails, sometimes even from family, suggesting I should write more of this stuff, and not all that junk about swords and monsters and killers and the like. Even some few reviewers have suggested More Than Kin was better than my fantasy and horror work (I’ve yet to work much in science fiction).

None of this depressed me, but it did make me realize that gap between the "unacceptable" and the "acceptable" still existed. It was still out there, floating around over the heads of those of us who take part somehow or other in speculative fiction.

Will we ever gain acceptance?

Probably not. But maybe we don’t need to. Maybe we shouldn’t even be striving for acceptance. Tolkien and George R.R. Martin have proved fantasy literature can be accepted by the masses, at least in video form, so maybe that should be enough. Maybe we shouldn’t be pushing our wares upon those who aren’t interested, and should focus upon those who are. The geeks. The nerds. The fans.

Because that’s where the true acceptance matters.

Ty Johnson's blog tour continues through November to celebrate the release of "Ghosts of thr Asylum"


  1. Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog today.

  2. Hi Ty
    I hadn't thought about it in this way. Of course, I was unaware of the attitude in the 70's. I guess for those who don't accept fantasy, horror and sci-fi, I'd say, look at the bottom line. George Lucas, J. K. Rowling and many more.
    N. R. Williams, Fantasy Author