Vision: A Resource for Writers

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Questions for Writers #3


By Lazette Gifford
Copyright © 2009 by Lazette Gifford, All Rights Reserved

No two authors are alike in how they work, but it can be helpful see how each experiences creativity and how they handle the actual work of writing.  With that in mind, I've started this new section for Vision.  Over the next several issues, I will send out a set of writing-related questions to several professionally published writers and present their answers in this and future issues.  I hope you'll find them interesting! 

These are the questions for this issue:

1. What genres do you write and what draws you to them? Do you have a favorite?

2. Is there a genre you would like to try and haven't yet?

They are simple questions, but the answers, as always, are wonderful and fun!

C. J. Cherryh


Science Fiction and Fantasy. I enjoy curiosity about the future and the past, and believe that one somewhat predicts the other. I was trained as an archaeologist, and fantasy is something I can do---but it feels like research. I can play with science, within the bounds of what we know about the universe, and feel a little less constrained. The simple effort it is to turn on room lights in the ancient world is just too constraining.


No. I did try historical, and that was even more work than fantasy---besides, nobody would ever appreciate my Ďgetting it rightí and it was such a headache I never finished it.

RSS feed blog:
publications: [to come]
with Lynn Abbey and Jane Fancher


Julie Czerneda


I write science fiction, because I have a passionate curiosity about the universe and SF lets me ask questions. That's my favourite. I also write fantasy, and for me the draw there is the challenge of getting the language just right. I have written horror. An editor made me. Not a fan.


Hmmm. Deep in my file drawer lies the bones of a "prehistoric monster terrorizes busload of strangers" story. While it could be called SF, to me it's more an unabashedly cheesy monster flick. I might finish it one day. Otherwise, I've ideas to fill several lifetimes yet to write in SF and fantasy.

Margaret McGaffey Fisk


For my novels, I've written science fiction, fantasy, literary fantasy, young adult fantasy, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, historical romance, young adult romance, and urban fantasy. That's not including unfinished novels of which one is literary. For short stories, toss in a whole lot more literary and a bunch of other types.


That would have been urban fantasy, but the story came to me a couple years ago. I guess maybe a pure historical rather than a historical romance. However, the requirement for strict period accuracy makes it unlikely that I'll make the jump.

Margaret McGaffey Fisk

Curve of Her Claw

From the Ashes

The Author's Grimoire

Lazette Gifford


I started out thinking of myself as a science fiction writer.  Then, without realizing it, I slipped over to the dark side... ummm, over to fantasy.  I enjoy creating both types of stories and love the worldbuilding aspects that go into them.  I have also written mystery and contemporary young adult novels -- as well as combinations of most of these genres.  Honestly, genre isn't my first concern when I start considering a story.  Sometimes the genre is obvious from the start, but sometimes I don't realize what I'm creating until something clicks, at least as far as genre is concerned.



I have long harbored a secret desire to write historical fiction set in the ancient world.  One big thing stops me: the ancient world is a huge, wide cavern into which a person could dive for years and still not come up with the right time and place for the story she wants to tell.  (I know this from experience.)  I have written a few short story historical fantasy pieces, and that's likely as close as I am going to get.

Farstep Station,  Available at


Sherwood Smith


Why I love to write fantasy and science fiction:

The short answer is, because all my life I've responded strongest to stories of wonder, laughter, and insight.  Longer answer: Folk tales of magic and wizards and animals who talk reach back far into our history. In Native American tradition, "washte" stories are fun and playful--for sheer entertainment--and "wakan" are the powerful tales that speak across time. The best fantasy combines both washte and wakan.

Here are some words from J.R.R. Tolkien, from the LETTERS:

We all need literature that is above our measure--though we may not have sufficient energy for it all the time. But the energy of youth is usually greater. Youth needs then less than adulthood or Age what is down to its (supposed) measure. But even in Age I think we only are really moved by what is at least in some point or aspect above us, above our measure, at any rate before we have read it and 'taken it in'.

Here are some words from Jane Yolen in  TOUCH MAGIC:

For adults, the world of fantasy books returns to us the great words of power which, in order to be tamed, have been excised from our adult vocabularies. These words are the pornography of innocence, words which adults no longer dare to use with other adults, and so we laugh at them and consign them to the nursery, fear masking as cynicism. These are the words that were forged in the earth, air, fire, and water of human existence, and the words are:

Love. Hate. Good. Evil. Courage. Honor. Truth.

Vera Nazarian


I write what I'd like to call Realistic Hard Fantasy. On first thought that might seem an oxymoron, because how can reality and fantasy intermix? Here's how -- think of representational surreal art -- with intricately detailed physical objects and subjects, somehow recognizable and tangible despite all their impossibilities and oddities, as they inhabit a believable 3D space that does not exist in our own world.

With words I create such a 3D realistic space of the mind, where the reader can suspend all impossibility and visualize a "new" world of perfectly tangible matter and causalities that is as physical as your desk, and yet continues being unreal according to our own reality's logic and laws of physics. Whether it's a world without color, such as my LORDS OF RAINBOW, where color is a psychological function not of perception but of human memory, or the Compass Rose milieu where the ancient world comes alive in temporal plurality and four-directional philosophy of being, or even my work in progress AIREALM where gravity is a force controlled not by mass but by individual will, like "magic" -- all of these take the form of intricately detailed new realities, described and detailed until the inner eye can truly see them. And from seeing comes verisimilitude -- which is at the heart of all belief.

Indeed, the key is always plausible detail, the visuality and tangibility, the grounding of the impossible and giving it a logical reason for being. The story, a loving organic thing, grows forth from such solid unrealities, like a tree taking solid root in nothing but sheer air.


Well, I am sure I would simply like to explore the mixing of genres more than any new one in particular. I already use elements of all in my present fantasy. Consider a kitchen with a well stocked pantry of Genre. Need some Mystery? Pop open this jar and pour it into the simmering Work-n-Pogress. Need Erotic Sensuality? Sprinkle from a bottle on that spice rack. Scientific speculation? Sure, open that metal can and dump it in. Need some Thrills? There's that bottle in the back...

The resulting soup/brew/casserole is always unique, and does not partake of any genres insomuch as it is simply a kettle filled with the current result of my imagination.

In the publishing industry Vera Nazarian wears two hats -- writer and publisher.  She is arguably the only Armenian-Russian professional speculative fiction writer working in English today. She is an award-winning artist and a Nebula-nominated writer, active member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). Her work has been translated into eight languages. Best known works are the novels Dreams of the Compass Rose and Lords of Rainbow, and the most recent is the novella The Duke In His Castle.

She is also the publisher of Norilana Books.

Official website:



Steve Miller


 So far I've written science fiction, fantasy, and some borderline mystery and horror, magic realism, as well as a couple mainstream things.


Not as a genre. I'm not so much of aware of the genre I'm writing in as what the story needs to do. I discover (or define) the genre after the story is done

Jane Toombs


My favorite genre to write is paranormal, It blends in well with historical, incudling Regency, suspense, and contemporary romance as well as horror. And of course strictly speaking, fantasy is paranormal. I write in all of these. usually with paranormal elements, but not always.


I actually have tried all the genres I've ever been interested in.

Lee Killough


I write cross genre mysteries...mysteries and fantasy, mystery and SF, mystery and urban fantasy. I'm drawn to them because of the imaginative possibilities, and I combine genres because they gives me all those possibilities to play with. And I've found I need them in order to write something I enjoy. My favorite crosses are mystery plus fantasy/urban fantasy. I've written one straight fantasy, The Leopard's Daughter, and it is one of my favorite books, but so far it's been a one-off; I haven't felt called to go back to that character and milieu again.


At this point there isn't a genre I would like to try that I haven't. I've tried a couple of others without satisfying results. As much as I enjoy reading all kinds of straight mysteries, when I tried writing one, I just couldn't get truly caught up in it, and gave up after several chapters. It just seemed so flat. I tried a romance, too, and it was an interesting experience I don't regret...because it uses a whole different vocabulary than mystery and sf. I actually finished the book and sent it out, and received some encouraging rejections urging me to try those editors again with a different book. I never did, though, because I realized I found romance unfulfilling. For me, a plot focused on Getting the Guy (or Girl) just can't match the fun of chasing killers and playing with supernatural characters on the way to finding Justice. ,
Checking on Culture, an aid to building story backgrounds
The Leopard's Daughter, a fantasy of ancient Africa


Jack Scoltock


 I write in all genres and have had novels published in all genres also non-fiction. My favourite is childrenís fantasy- sci-fi. Horror etc. particularly MAGIC. Read a lot of my favourite authors- Dean Koontz and Terry Brooks. Scott Lynch is one of my other favourites.


At the moment there is no genre I would like to try. I also write short stories and maybe a good collection of ones Iíve had published would be great- is that a genre- a short story collection?

The Meltin' Pot From Wreck to Rescue and Recovery, published by the History Press is to be launched on March the sixth, and already released by the Inishowen sub-aqua club who found the B 17 bomber.

Challenge of the Red Unicorn is out in March aswell. Published by


Jim C. Hines


I started out writing science fiction and fantasy, along with a handful of mainstream peaces, but Iíve evolved into a pretty exclusive fantasy guy. I go back and forth between light/humorous fantasy and more serious stories, though the fun stuff tends to come more easily for me.

I love fantasy. I love the magic and the sense of wonder. I love working with no limits, save the rules you create for your world. (Some might say I just like playing God with my universes.) And while I love exploring new ideas, watching my genre evolve and branch out, thereís also a part of me that loves the good old wizards, warriors, and rogues going up against dragons and dark lords.


Honestly, no. I enjoy what I do, and right now Iím having a lot of fun writing quirky fantasy. If I get to the point where I want to try something new, Iíll do that. (Whether or not anyone will buy it is another matter, of course.)


""These princesses will give Charlie's Angels a serious run for the money and leave 'em in the dust."" -Esther Friesner

Read the first chapter at 


Kage Alan


I write within the gay genre, but also a sub-genre of comedy underneath that. I did write one non-fiction historical novel, but that was before I went solo. While I had no intention of writing comedies (I never realized I even had a sense of humor), I've really enjoyed them from the creative aspect and feedback has been positive enough to keep me wanting to explore it further. It's my way of turning angst into something more palatable, so it's also become my favorite genre.


Absolutely. I've got a science fiction trilogy I'd love to start one day, then dabble in some horror and even a drama. All in good time, though. There are three other comedies I need to finish before I can even think about those, plus I'm editing my next book, which is an action/comedy.

Latest Novel: "Andy Stevenson Vs. the Lord of the Loins"

If you are a published author -- not self-published (though you can be both) -- and would like to take part, email me at and I will add you onto the list!