Awesome post over on Adrian Tchaikovsky’s blog about reading in the genre.
A genuine ignorance of the genre is possible. If you simply don’t read it, fine. However if you claim that, and then write this, people may ask how come, since you reinvented the wheel, all those spokes, the hub and the rim were just sitting about ready-made in your store-room. There are books that cross into the fantasy genre from outside, because genre boundaries are artificial and (yada yada yada see previous posts tagged fiction) (6). On the other hand, most fantasy books have strong and clear antecedents within the genre. You wouldn’t write a haiku without knowing how many beats to the bar, after all (7). As a good example of this, David Gemmell wasn’t a fantasy reader. However, he was a Westerns reader, another marginalised genre, and one can see the Westerns influence in his work.
He’s very eloquent about the whole thing, too.