Today on Twitter, I bumped into a tweet from Guy Gavriel Kay, in which he confesses his reluctance to post and share comments from readers about his writing. I tweeted back that he should share other readers’ opinions about his work, because he writes for the readers. Another follower joined in with his agreement because word of mouth is the greatest way to reach new audiences, new readers. And this was just how I was introduced to the wordsmithery of GGK.
Years back, and two months before I left Canada to study in Scotland, a friend recommended Tigana as the best example of how a book could be a self-contained story, and not require endless sequels and prequels. I was quite skeptical of his assertion, but he assured me that the characters were nuanced, the plot and sub-plots riveting, and the writing superlative.
I had to read this for myself. No book written nowadays is that damn good.
Thankfully, I was so very wrong.
Tigana reminded me what a good fantasy story should be. GGK showed me – in no uncertain terms – how beautiful prose could be. For the first time since The Narnia Series, I became invested in characters, empathized with them, cheered for them when they succeeded, and cried for them when they failed. Tigana was the first book I read and re-read and wore out and bought a new one and wore that one out too. Kay’s storytelling ability is inspiring; his writing showed me how characters interact, speak, react, and grow with every turn of the page. I devoured more and more of his books, scoured the shelves of UK bookstores (which sadly lacked any titles from one of the best writers our time), and learned how to inject humour into dire situations, how to shape quirks and flaws into good characters to make them more interesting, more engaging for the reader.
And I hope – oh how I hope! – that I have learned enough from reading GGK that I have been able to create characters and write dialogue and set a scene as beautifully as he does.
Mr Kay, please don’t ever hesitate to share your successes with us. Being a writer is a lonely job. Even reading has become more isolated, as every person has their own library or e-reader, and storytelling in groups is a fringe event art. If you share the response others have had to your words, then we all benefit, knowing that we are not alone.