Evolving Into Something New: Science Fiction

Science fiction/fantasy is an interesting genre. Over the years, it has encompassed many kinds of stories, from magic and futuristic space battles. Star Wars to Star Trek are two famous screen sci-fi epics and authors like Marion Zimmer Bradley, Andre Norton and Anne McCaffrey offered print sagas of their own. When I was younger, science fiction/fantasy was a catch-all for any kind of fantastic storyline that wasn’t in the form of a reality based, traditional romance, mystery or real life drama. 

The genre has since matured into countless types of science fiction and fantasy categories (high fantasy, urban fantasy, hard science fiction, sci-fi romance, to name a few). Cross-genre stories have appeared, melding fantastic elements such as vampires and werewolves into mystery stories, or gritty detective crime solving. Spiritual elements introduced themselves, although the best science fiction has always had a layer of enduring spiritual truth to it, speaking of humanity’s struggles and fears about being alive. Many of the authors I read as a teenager: Marion Zimmer Bradley, Alan Dean Foster, Ursula K LeGuin, to name a few, wrote stories that were thinly veiled societal commentaries (and some of them not veiled at all), exploring real world problems in a fantastical way. Some writers were positive—humanity would prevail—and some were a bit less optimistic, but all of the best ones wrote stories that revealed our human condition in the midst of even these impossible stories. 

Hard core sci-fi, many stories written by bonafide scientists who could see what was coming, would provide warnings by weaving thrilling stories about what could be. Many of these have come true—try spending any time in the telecom industry and you’ll discover that artificial intelligence is not quite so fantastical as you might think, although as of now, we haven’t created a Terminator-esque SkyNet. Yet). Softer sci-fi explored culture clash between aliens and humans or alien races, de-emphasizing the technology aspect, but honing in on basic human experience nonetheless. 

Yet through all of this, the basic reality remains: the best stories explore our human experience, whether it be through technology or ordinary life with a science fiction twist. We might be writing about other cultures, but we are really writing about ourselves. We are writing about our hopes, fears, experiences, and the truths we are just now beginning to see and experience. It might have fantastic underpinnings, but the truth is, we are writing about ourselves. We are writing about something that we suspect, but don’t necessarily fully know yet. The best stories, the ones that resonate, are the ones with some germ of truth in them. And science fiction, like all of humanity, is evolving with us. We like to escape, but we want to hear truth. And to merge the two: truth cloaked in fun—well, what is better than that? 

The Next Steps

The Next Steps

It’s been a while since my last post—and I apologize to my readers.

Such is the life of an author—the muse can get derailed by all kinds of unexpecteds and apparently, the blog muse is very similar. In my case, however, the derailing was in the form of something quite exciting: I was quite focused on my launch of Book Two, Triangle: Book Two of The Azellian Affairs. I’m happy to say my book launch at Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver, Colorado went beautifully—I was able to share my experiences on writing the story and the process of getting it launched with a fun group of people. I do so love to stand in front of people, answering their questions about being an author—and questions about my book and the backstory that underlies it. 

Read More

Get to participate in the look of an entire series!

Creating a look for a series has a whole different set of challenges and joys to recommend it. When I first started, I was looking for some symbolic and interesting art that suggested what was going on in the book. It’s taken me several months to realize that a series is a different set of thought processes than a single book and that having the input of other people is very important.

I’m beginning to launch the process of starting the second book and am taking a moment to review the first one and what I’ve learned so far. Where do I want to go with the series? What look do I want to create? What would be fun on the cover, giving hints about the story behind it, but also is eye-catching? I recently discovered 99 Designs, which runs a contest for designers all around the world to compete for a chance to design a cover. I’ve seen some beautiful artwork based on a short paragraph I gave them about the story…and they responded. And best of all, it’s led to some really great concepts for covers!

For the next four days, I’m going to be running a poll to help me decide the direction of the covers for my series. I want to know what you like! And of course, I’m showing the work of some very talented designers in the world of 99 Designs. Some of these designers have really floored me with their talent and insight—they all created these pictures from a description I wrote about the story. There are some really amazing artists listed here. Which is your favorite? 

The voting link is here:

https://99designs.com/book-cover-design/vote-bkwok5

Tell me what you think!

Merging Sci-Fi and Romance

I just had my first experience with being on a radio show being interviewed by someone. I really loved the experience! The interviewer, Briar Lee Mitchell, was supportive and helped me bring up some really neat information I never put into words before: how do you merge the romance and sci-fi genres? The answer gave me a sneak peek into my own psyche, which I love. I read quite a bit of classic science fiction and fantasy. When I was in my teens and early 20’s, I also had time to read novels that required you to learn a huge amount about another world before you could even begin to enjoy the story. That ability ended for me in my mid 20’s, after I graduated from college and entered the working world. Work and family slowly ate at my free time, and I no longer had the energy after a long work day to focus on a complex book for hours on end.

But as I continued to read and write, my stories evolved and my tastes slowly shifted. Growing up between two cultures myself (French and English), I witnessed the confusion and heart break that can come from cultural assumptions, and perhaps not surprisingly, that theme crept into the stories I was writing. Yet it was very important to me to keep a story simple, easy to read and enjoyable. While I did at one point adore complex stories that built incredible worlds, my brain filled up with the complexities of life and I stopped wanting to read about the complexities of other worlds.

How to balance the two? Bringing to life a culture, yet keeping it simple, believable and interesting as I spun a story? Enter romance, which I also read quite a bit of during my formative years. I didn’t need a complex plot, as I already had a complex situation playing out in the conflict and character interactions. Most romance novels are pretty simple: man meets woman, they fall in love and after some problems which they invariably resolve, they end up living happily ever after. How did that impact my writing? Move the story to Earth, pair the aliens with human characters people could relate to…and voila, I had a story that bridged the two genres.

Do my characters end up living happily ever after? Spoilers are never fun: I can say, though, while I do enjoy HEA’s (happily ever afters) and usually end up there, who said a book needs to end on it EVERY time? I’m playing between genres, after all, and science fiction encourages lots of series. Romance encourages HEA’s….merge the two and you get six more books currently written and just waiting for publication. Stay tuned and we’ll all learn more together!