A simple question

My first ever author interview goes live today on the pages of Paranormal Unbound, a blog that declares:

We are writers and geek girls, genre apologists and romance lovers, Whedonites, trekkies, historians, lawyers, scientists, priests, and above all, readers in search of books to fall in love with.  Come nerd out with us over everything from the evolutionary basis for the popularity of vampire romances to the terrible injustice of Firefly’s cancellation. Drop us a line and recommend your favorite offbeat paranormal romance. Tell us about your adventures as a fellow geek. Look around, stay awhile, and don’t be a stranger.

The focus of the blog is on paranormal romance and urban fantasy, not science fiction, but I’ve read a fair amount in these genres and feel a close kinship with writers who want to take the real world and add something extra–something that doesn’t currently exist–and see what happens.


I’m a fan of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, which take place in modern-day Chicago. The main character is a wizard, but he can’t “hocus pocus” do whatever he wants; there are rules and Butcher does a great job of building magic into the real world in a plausible way.

Writing near-future fiction isn’t much different. I get to make up technology (which might as well be magic), add it to the real world and speculate on what happens next. In The Perfect Specimen the “magic” is the technology that allows corporations to discover a habitable planet and colonize it.

Celia Breslin, my interviewer, asked a seemingly simple question: “What do you love about writing science fiction?” that threw me for a loop. It was like being asked why I love a certain person. My brain kind of froze up. Too many thoughts and feelings rendered me inarticulate. Unfortunately, I’m supposed to be writer so inarticulate isn’t an option, but the real explanation of why I love writing science fiction would require a multimedia extravaganza. The shorter answer is that reading and writing science fiction is like traveling; I get to see new things, meet new people, have adventures, get a fresh perspective, and all of that is wrapped up in a neat package.

Day to day life can be plot-less, and I think we humans crave plot. Travel has a built-in plot; you know when the trip begins and when it ends. You stand on the sidewalk in front of your house with an overloaded suitcase, the cab arrives, and you are off! A week later you return and everything familiar feels different for a time.

I’m not trying to provide an escape from ordinary life in my writing, but rather a tool to help readers see with fresh eyes and awaken their curiosity. “What would happen if…” is pretty much the question that starts any creative project!

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