Fantasy is one of the oldest writing genres on the planet, going back to Beowulf, King Authur, er, Arthur, and other mystical, magical beginnings.
It's a style with no rules, and when science started catching up, it spawned two related genres, Sci-Fi and the more fantastical of horror. These three genres intertwine like a handful of worms.
Fantasy is also the most liberating genre of all, because, frankly, anything goes. If you want your vampire to be all sparkly and pretty, sure, go for it. Wood elves, trolls, goblins ... do you want your elves to be good elves, or something darker and more foreign? Doesn't matter, there's no right or wrong way to do it.
In fact, the more novel, the more unique, the better. Books that give us a new look at an old topic are all the rave. Look at the success spawned by Wicked. Imagine, taking the old witch from the Wizard of Oz and making her someone you cared about.
I think this is one of the reasons I was drawn to the genre. After all, reading is, in a way, escapism, and if you're going to escape, why not go to a world so completely different than ours that your fascination with the world brings you more colorfully and lucidly into the story.
Look to the success of games like Dungeons and Dragons. If you liked the first Harry Potter, you loved them all, and you lived the story along with Harry, Ron and Hermione all the way to the end.
Fantasy allows the author a freer hand than any other genre. The science in Sci-fi has to be palatable, if not provable. Mysteries have to walk the line between being too easy and too hard to solve. Westerns have to be ... um ... I dunno, I don't read them. But the horses have to be vegetarians and have four hooves, all of which touch the ground.
When I wrote my Adventures of Guy series, I didn't intend on them being fantasy at all. My heroes were three college roommates and a mother from up the street who get involved on a Quest. Of course, every quest has to have an elf, sorcerer, Unbeliever, a warrior and attorneys, er, otherworldly evil creatures.
But fantasy? Nah, I just wanted the freedom to have whatever I wanted to happen in the stories happen , and if it took a bit of magic, so be it.
Still, though, I have to admit to some surprise when reviewers started using the word 'fantasy.'
But with my upcoming book, Fang Face, all pretense is thrown away. It's definitely fantasy ... a vampire story, cut and dried. And I get to make the rules. The vampires don't sparkle, can't come out in the day once they are fully Undead, and they can't tolerate Doritos.
And believe me, I love the freedumb ... freedom ... to do whatever I want.