Some people believe writing fiction isn't 'important'. That it's merely 'escapism' for readers. That it's not a real job. There's a number of things wrong with this assumption.
Stories are how we pass on our history - as individuals, families, tribes and nations. They are what bind us together. Story is what we find scratched or painted on cave walls. Story is what happened as far back as man existed, it's in our DNA. Story happens all the time, even if you're not an author, you tell stories. It is the retelling of our individual or collective past, our traditions, our culture, by framing it in a 'once upon a time' setting, which gives us purpose and hope for the present and the future.
Stories also change us. By being in a 'once upon a time' framework they allow readers to be challenged in ways factual, or even self-help books, can fail. And that's because a story develops empathy in the reader for the characters about whom they've come to care. Research shows that readers of fiction are more empathetic, more open to other cultures, traditions and ways of thinking than non-readers. And empathy, in today's world, is a character trait of which we could use a lot more.
Oh, please, I hear you say, what could an historical romance set in 1867 in British Columbia have to contribute to a 2019 South African reader's life? Let him tell you (Yes, 'him'!).
"I am not someone who typically reads romance novels and very often I shy away from stories set in the 1800s. This story though had an intriguing concept of a Bride Ship. I wanted to read more about it from an interest point of view. I was not prepared for how the story would suck me in and hold me from the first page until I fell out at the last a changed person." - Mark Patterson, reviewing 'Harcourt's Mountain'.
Why are stories important? - 'I fell out a changed person." And that's why I am a storyteller.
Stand back! I have an imagination and I'm not afraid to use it!