On Writing Sci-Fi and Fantasy…. Or Something In Between
By Lissa Bryan
I have a confession: I don’t write sci-fi. Or fantasy. Or historical fiction… That is, if you’re a stickler for the strict genre definitions. What I write has combinations of multiple genres. I’ve never really been one for rules and boundaries in my fiction. A traditional publisher from the Big Five wouldn’t know what to do with me, but fortunately, I ended up at a publisher which dares to push the limits.
My dystopian and supernatural fictions are similar in that I introduce new elements to the world, but try to keep them grounded in reality. I’m fascinated by the concept of ordinary people suddenly thrust into extraordinary circumstances. What would happen if a young writer discovered the ghost of her favorite author haunted her new home? What would happen if a man in the Tudor era discovered that the supernatural creatures from the fairy tales his grandmother had told him were real? What would happen to an ordinary girl if a terrible pandemic virus destroyed the world she had known?
In each of these cases, I wanted be as accurate as I could with the details of the real world in which my characters inhabit. What would the language of an Edwardian man sound like in a love letter? What did the Tudors have for breakfast? Would you be able to use a cell phone in France during an apocalypse? Every one of my novels has presented a unique challenge in terms of research, outside of the normal issues that come with each genre.
For me, sci-fi is the realm of endless possibilities. A writer can create (and destroy) entire worlds, invent new rules and break them. Every story starts with the single question, “What if…?” and your only limit is how many questions you can imagine after that.
Mixing genres as I do also presents another challenge—finding readers. Romance readers don’t always want to try a dystopian novel, and historical fiction readers don’t always want paranormal elements in the mix. Advice columns for new writers usually recommend that they pick a genre and stick with it to build a “brand” but I’ve never been that kind of author.
I’ve always hoped to build an audience that would be willing follow my work as I wander the realms of imagination, trusting they’ll enjoy my new tale no matter what “flavor” it is. Some of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received have been from readers who said they had never tried a particular genre before they read one of my novels, and they ended up enjoying it so much they were now searching for more stories.
So, come along with me, gentle reader. I’m not sure where we’re going next, or how we’ll get there, but I promise it will be an interesting ride.
Say NO to REALITY!
This May, TWCS is paying tribute to the SciFy genre in honour of the EPIC Star Wars series and LEGENDARY The Hitchhikers Guide to the Gal-axy, amongst others...
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LEGACY OF A DREAMER, Allie Jean, Paranormal
Chantal Breelan is plagued by horrible nightmares too realistic to ignore. Her past has been a mystery, and the foster system isn’t providing any answers. Starting a new life alone at eighteen is a challenge, espe-cially when things that go bump in the night appear out of the shadows, and her dreams begin to breach reality. Darkness surrounds her from all sides, but is it only evil that hides in the shadows, or are the answers to her past lingering just be-yond?
ZOMBIFIED, Maggie LaCroix, Paranormal Fantasy
Monsters know their place: vampires are sexy; zombies just decompose. But Maggie La Croix’s Zombified con-jures up an entirely different kind of undead raised by good old-fashioned Voodoo. Take Henri—still gorgeous, over one hundred years after his death. And now a hurricane has set him free from a curse.
Enter Josie, a reporter with her eyes on Henri. But falling for a man without a heartbeat could get her more than a broken heart. It could get her zombified.
THE SIX, K.B. Hoyle, Fantasy
Darcy Pennington feels like she is an insufferably average thirteen-year-old, but when a change in her dad’s job forces her to attend Cedar Cove Camp, she unwittingly stumbles upon a magical gateway. Along with five other teenagers, she will travel to a world called Alitheia. The “arrival of the Six” was prophesied long ago, but will she have what it takes to save Alitheia?
MORE, T.M. Franklin, Paranormal
Haunted by terrifying nightmares and certain she’s being watched, college student Ava Michaels finds an unlikely ally in Physics tutor Caleb Foster. But Caleb isn’t quite what he seems. In fact, he's not entirely human, and he's not the only one.
Together, the duo faces a threat from an ancient race bent on Ava’s capture, and possible extinction. As Ava fights to survive, she learns the world’s not what she thought.
It's a little bit more.
THE SILVER CRESCENT, Debby Grahl, Paranormal
An ancestor’s tale of betrayal, murder and a stolen fortune in silver leads Elise Baxter to Max Holt’s Victorian inn.
She is reluctantly, though irresistibly, attracted to Max. Leery of loving again, Max lets passion overrule caution, tumbling them into an erotic encounter.
Guided by ghosts and opposed by an evil presence, the couple searches for the treasure. But there are others who will stop at nothing to unlock the mystery of the Silver Crescent.
THE MEMORY HEALER, Julie Filarski, Paranormal
When Beth Montgomery reluctantly agrees to carry out a psychic assessment of Carrington House, she is transported to another era, where she sees a date on a calendar that fills her with dread.
Back in the present time and sensing an eternal bond with the irresistible Dr Matthew Jamieson, she wonders whether he was once the darkly handsome but unfaithful Samuel Methven. Beth must regress to the tragic events of 1895 to learn the truth.
HUNTED, Lorenz Font, Paranormal
Disease is ravaging the vampire com-munity in New York City’s underworld. Harrow Gates is sick, alone, and hunted. When Pritchard Tack offers him a new beginning, he is in no position to refuse.
Jordan is a young vampire whose only focus is revenge. In her search for her family’s killer, she meets a man who threatens to pull her heart away from her sworn mission. Is love strong enough to override her thirst for vengeance?
MOUNTAIN CHARM, Sydney Logan, Paranormal
“True love and sweet whispers, till death do us part;
Send someone to love my Appalachian heart.”
At the age of thirteen, Angelina Clark followed in the footsteps of her ancestors by casting an Appalachian love spell, which promised she would blossom into a beautiful and gifted woman who would find her true love. A young Angelina had been thrilled to participate in the sacred ritual, but through the years, her father’s untimely death and her mother’s failing health have shaken Angelina’s magical faith to its core. As her twenty-first birthday approaches, she refuses to practice her supernatural gifts and no longer believes in the love charm.
REDEMPTION, Lindsey Gray, Paranormal
Life is for living. Afterlife is a chance at redemption. As the only remaining female vampire in existence, Lily attempts to make her way towards her ever after. But with best friend Becca, new beau Ian, human hus-band Ryan, Archangel Peter, and a host of demons all standing in the way of Lily's chance at a peaceful eternity, how can she possibly survive?
CONVERGENCE, J.D. Watts, Paranormal
Daniella Rossi is a nineteen-year-old college student who sees the world quite differently than those around her. From infancy, she was aware of the beings that walked among her kind who were not like them, as well as her own personal Guardian who watched over her. Dani always knew she was different, but she never dreamed the full scope of her importance. When a new male Guardian comes to replace her lifelong friend and companion, will Dani be able to accept him as she deals with a world full of the other Children of Creation, Angels, both good and evil?
OBVIOUS CHILD, Warren Cantrell, SciFy
In 2015, Sam Grant is chosen to take part in a contest that will choose the world’s first time traveler. There’s just one prob-lem—Sam doesn’t want anything to do with the contest. Yet his deliberately profane public appearances and sabotaged interviews only boost ratings. Now stuck, Sam must plot how he’ll get out of the contest, or if he should embrace it all and become the most famous person in history.
GHOSTWRITER, Lissa Bryan, Paranormal
Unemployed, with her savings dwin-dling, Sara Howell thinks things are looking up when she lands a ghostwriting job and rents the affordable island home of her favorite author, Seth Fortner, who mysteriously disappeared in 1925.
Strange things happen, making Sara wonder if Seth ever left. When she finds an old trunk of Seth’s letters, she delves into a world she never imagined, filled with love and a family curse it seems only she can break.
THE STARS ARE FALLING, Michelle Birbeck, Paranormal
Jenny’s life revolves around surviving university, watching the stars, and staring at her housemate, Dale. But as the night sky glows with the light of falling stars, Jenny’s classes and crush seem unimportant. The Stars are retaking Earth, saving mother nature by eliminating the problem. Together, Jenny and Dale can save the world and the human race, but surviving long enough to convince the Stars of that is perilous and may kill them both.
EVERYBODY OUT OF THE LAUNDROMAT, I NEED TO THINK!,
Phil G. Glenn, Paranormal
When the ordinary life of Virgil Blaine crosses the path of the even more ordinary Doug Coulthard, it sets off a series of extra-ordinary events. Doug Coulthard is a Filing Clerk and the President of the Unpublished People’s Poet’s Party –Political Unit (UPPPPU) where a catastrophe has just happened; two of his long time members have been published. The UPPPPU goes on a recruiting drive by distributing leaflets, one of which finds its way into Virgil Blaine’s pocket. Virgil Blaine, who is a slight poet himself, attends one of the meetings where he meets Forward Slash who offers Virgil Blaine a job. The offer comes with two things Virgil Blaine has never had; a job and a car and on a whim he accepts. The problem is, through no effort of his own, his position is suddenly elevated. Virgil Blaine says the job is ‘messing with his DNA – Deliberate Non-Achiever’ and he misses his old life and so hatches a plan to get it back…
SEBASTIAN AND THE AFTERLIFE, William j. Barry, Paranormal
Sebastian, an average seventeen-year-old boy, has just paid this debt. He awakes in a surreal world somewhere between mor-tal life and the afterlife, where the Grim Reaper rules and his loyal agents maintain the law. But not all is peaceful in this mystical realm. Axis Red and his soul pirates threaten the future of all who dwell there.
Sebastian soon finds himself at Sa-pentia, a high school for the departed. There he makes new friends but longs for his lost love, Sarah, who is still alive in the mortal world. Some things are forbidden; some lines cannot be crossed. What will Sebastian risk to be close to Sarah again?
Continue the adventure with Sebastian and the Afterlife Book II - Agents of the Reaper