I like Medieval Europe

Every once in a while, when I’m telling someone about a story I’m working on, and they’ll say something to the effect of “Oh, it’s a medieval Europe setting. Have you considered doing some other type of setting? What about something based off Mexican culture?”

It’s an understandable question. The majority of fantasy is based in medieval Europe. “Cultural appropriation” has become something of an anathema in the industry, and I do have experience with that culture. Here’s the thing, though. That culture doesn’t interest me. That’s not really surprising. The things that draw us are the strange, the unusual. David Farland talks about how the biggest successful movies have one big thing in common. They transport you. They take you somewhere else, some place you don’t know. What I grew up with doesn’t transport me.

There’s a reason medieval European stories are so prevalent. It’s a period when the world was still wild, when we imagine there was a such a thing as heroes who stood against the monsters. Other cultures have stories like that too, and they inspire many people, but for me? Medieval Europe draws me.

What I have hanging over my fireplace.

When I was growing up, my two favorite moves, both from Disney, were The Sword in the Stone and Robin Hood. I like medieval Europe. Stories about chivalry fascinate me. Knights are almost mythic figures. Wizards, in the tradition of Merlin, fill me with wonder. I acknowledge that most of those stories are romanticized versions of actual conditions, but isn’t that the point of storytelling? Taking a grain of truth, in this case, ideas from a culture, and building on them until you have something new and wonderful that draws the reader in. Yes, I’ve written using other cultures, but I always come back. There’s “Write what you know”, but there’s also “Write the story you want to read.” You write stories based on other cultures if you want. I will eagerly read them, but there are more stories about knights fighting dragons that are yet to be told.

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