A number of you now, some returning customers, others who stumbled upon the shop, or the first installment of the story of Fenn, have reached out in private to ask me questions. They are generally along the lines of:
Just what is it you’re doing here?
Is any of what you say true? You must be making it up.
Who makes the stuff in your shop, really? Where are you getting it from?
And variations on the same.
I thought it high time to give you an answer.
As for the first question the answer is both simple and complicated. The short answer is that I, like any businessman, am attempting to make a profit. Dreadful, I know, but there it is. As far as that’s concerned, it’s up to you to take it or leave it, really. I’ll not hold it against you either way. The long answer is, well, as I say, complicated. I think in answering the other two questions, you’ll get a better understanding of the first than if I attempted to answer it directly.
Let me address Winded, the story of Fenn.
Did I write it? No. Although I did transcribe it, and even went so far as to make some minor edits. Is it true? Yes, at least to the extent that I can confirm the parts that I did not directly experience myself. But it sounds a whole lot like fantasy. Ah. There. Now you’ve hit on something. It does indeed read like the first installment in exactly the sort of story you’d find on the shelves at your local bookstore, under a great big sign that says Fantasy, filled with the works of Tolkien and Ursula Le Guin and Gene Wolfe, and countless others whose work, however varied, has been conveniently lumped under one enormous umbrella that ensures the reader both that she’ll get dragons, sorcery, sword fights, gods, goblins, princes, witches, wonder, robes, treasure, funny hats, AND that under no circumstances whatsoever is it even remotely approaching true. In fact, its untruth has been made into a legal requirement. It says it there, in the first few pages, among the fine print:
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
And as many of you have pointed out, Winded, which includes both swords and a witch—not to mention a gnome, a dwarf, and a stone colossus—would fit right in. And the reasons for this are, I shall say, many.
The fact is that there are certain writers on those aforementioned shelves (and I’ll not tell you which) whose work has been, shall we say mis-categorized. This is a common enough occurrence in history that you shouldn’t have too much trouble believing it. (Consider looking into Geoffrey of Monmouth, and Iolo Morganwg, if you want examples of well-regarded men who said perhaps more than they could get away with and found themselves discredited long after they could do anything about it). I’ll not go so far as to say that any of the so-called novels in the fantasy fiction section are in actuality works of unadulterated historic record, full-stop. What I will say is that some of them contain more of the truth than we are being led to believe, and that Winded—along with other, longer stories which are forthcoming—is an example of a story that despite appearing to fiction, is rather based on facts that certain Powers do not want people knowing.
And then you’ll say: But I’ve never seen a dwarf. To which I will reply, rather cheekily: Have you ever seen a tardigrade? And you’ll answer either: A what—? Or, if you’re more scientifically aware: Well, not personally— And then I’ll have you. Just because you’ve not seen something, doesn’t mean it isn’t out there, somewhere. And I will add, cryptically, that somewhere is a lot bigger than you think.
Which brings me to the next question: Where does it all come from? And if you’ve been following along, you’ll understand perfectly, when I say: Somewhere. The truth is, the goods I sell come from all over. I have a great many sources, and suppliers, and trading partners. As far as I’m concerned, if I think I can sell it, and turn a profit, and perhaps even do someone some good in the process, I’ll stock it in my shop. The curioser the better, of course.
Now my online shop is still in its fledgling stages, and as yet offers only a small fraction of what’s available in the physical Greyburne’s shop at 36 B, Merchant Street. In time, I intend to expand my online offerings. It is simply a matter of testing the waters, as it were. Patience, friends.
Finally, an answer to a question that no one has asked specifically, but which is nonetheless relevant: What on earth have the stories—of Fenn, who you know, and those to come: P.T. Lyfantod, Duo Ming, Amal, Professor Wrinkle, and others—got to do with the shop? What am I telling them for?
The answer to this question at least is simple: At one point or another, they make me look good. Think of them as long-form testimonials (and I don’t mean the Biblical sort). Publicity. That’s all it is. And if you have a good time reading them, well all the better. Some of those stories may end up in the fantasy section someday. Not because they aren’t true. But because, I’ve found, when you put things there, the exactly right sort of minds tend to find them.