When it came time to choose a genre to write in I chose fantasy. As a longtime reader of Fantasy, Scifi, and everything in between, it seemed a natural fit. I was a latecomer to women’s literature and romance. It didn’t hold me the way fantasy did, although I like some romance in my fantasy, and not just Mage/queen/plucky necromancer meets heroic other, falls in love, and produce intrepid little sorcerers.
I love the big, sprawling messiness of a good fantasy story. The world so different from ours, yet populated by the same type of people with the same problems. How to escape evil, which magical academy to attend, how to pacify rampaging dragons, and oh yes, love among the smoking ruins of a just razed village.
Not a big fan of dystopian fiction, I must admit. It’s depressing to think of all the ways civilization could go wrong. The survivors – because it’s always lucky by birth survivors – trudging through a ravaged landscape, rummaging through hollowed-out Wal-marts for food and bullets. Fighting off others of their kind to rise to the top of their pathetic food chain. No groups ever join together to try to make their lot in life better, to try and jump-start an improved civilization unlike the one that got them into this mess in the first place. Are we that narrow-minded a species?
Don’t answer that.
I do have a space opera novel I worked on and it’s sitting in limbo. It falls prey to the things I hate about dystopian novels, hence my reluctance to go on with it. Time to strip it down for parts. Apparently, though, doom, doom, doom makes for good reading. I do like exploring other worlds and cultures in sci-fi also. Big problem there is the vastness of space and zooming around in it. I get hung up on the technical (im)possibilities because I know just enough science to be skeptical, but not enough to make everything plausible. Which is probably why I chose space opera rather than hard science sci-fi. Much easier to hand-wave the science like a Jedi excusing droids than get lost in the physics. Even though I do love me some physics.
Romance novels both fascinate and repel me. There’s something to be said for the formulaic model and a HEA (Happily Ever After) at the end. Maybe it’s the optimist in me, wanting the world to turn out for the better. The cynic whispers in the back of my mind, you think real life is like this? Ha! Have I got news for you. Romance dies under the weight of children, laundry, and whose turn it is to mow the backyard.
Which leaves women’s fiction, formerly called ‘chick lit’. About women, mostly written by women. A lot of it is depressing as hell, chronicling modern-day problems in a long, and death marchy manner. Dead/missing children, cancer, parents with dementia. Why do I subject myself to that? Because it’s real. I guess I can’t live on fantasy alone, and sometimes need to come down from my dragon-patrolled castle and deal with life before I scurry back to my fairy fortified citadel.
All of these genres figure into my fantasy writing, however. I like building worlds, I like creating creatures, but I also like my characters to want love along with their magical abilities. Perhaps love helps or hinders their abilities. Or captures the unicorn. Or saves a kingdom. Or destroys it utterly. The people in fantasyland have the same problems you and I have; we just can’t use magic or a sharp sword to solve them. Although it would be oh so satisfying to turn your boss into a spotted hog-sloth.
My heroines and heroes are your everyday folk who just happen to be caught up in something bigger than they are. Reluctantly shoved into saving the world, they rise to the occasion or give it their best shot while dodging death. This is what I want out of the real world. Since we, as a society, currently can’t have nice things, I want to write stories about a world where it can happen. And once my letter from Hogwarts gets here, watch out. I’m going to change the world.