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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Available at Amazon.com
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:
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
Jane Yolen in
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:
Good. Evil. Courage. Honor. Truth.
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
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
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
She is also the publisher of Norilana Books.
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
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.
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
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
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.)
THE STEPSISTER SCHEME, by Jim C. Hines
""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
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 Vision@lazette.net and I will add you onto the list!