Tag Archives: fiction

Speculative Fiction

Have You Heard of It?

Speculative Fiction. No Vampires Here!

We are all familiar with the popular reading genres such as romance, mystery, thriller, science fiction, and horror. Those are further divided into subgenres such as paranormal romance and historical romance, cozy mysteries, YA, etc. While fantasy has become popularly accepted as a major genre, it is still considered a subgenre of science fiction.

Have you heard of “Speculative Fiction”? Most readers have not. In fact, if you were to look in Amazon’s categories, as wide-ranging as they are, you will not find speculative fiction anywhere. However, it is a type of fiction which encompasses genres such as futuristic fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, and many others.

In its simplest elements, it is any fiction that “speculates” as to possibilities. These possibilities may be future, present, or past. For example, The Man in the High Castle is speculative fiction because it speculates on what may have happened if the Nazis had won WWII. Jurassic Park also is speculative fiction because it explores the possible results of bringing creatures that nature chose for extinction into the present.

Anytime a work of fiction “speculates,” when it explores the “what if,” it can be considered speculative fiction. Some writers, such as Margaret Atwood, have gone a bit further into their definition of what constitutes speculative fiction. She held that speculative fiction must be plausible. She felt it was fiction that “could happen.”

In this view, science fiction that deals with Martians is not speculative because it could not happen as we now know for sure that Mars has no inhabitants. Fiction that speculates on humanity settling Mars and terraforming the planet would be speculative.

You might be tempted to ask: why is this type of genre necessary or important? It is necessary because some works of fiction do not fall into any other simple genre. Case in point is my Future-Past (Daniel’s Fork) series, in which I constructed a society ruled by lords as Europe was centuries back. The people of Daniel’s Fork (a village) speak in simple, formal English. They live with technology that dates back to the colonial times.

Many of my readers have asked why I chose to do that.   A good friend, when she first read the Hunter’s Snare (previously Daniel’s Fork), was very angry and insulted. She argued that Americans, with such a history and fierce love of democracy, would revert back to being ruled by lords in the future.

Of course, 2020 was still seven years in the future, when the danger of losing our democracy became too real. In the future, possibility is the key word! It is understandable that my friend was doubtful of the possibilities. However, if you read the book I wrote after, Fire Dance, you begin to see the very real possibilities in Hunter’s Snare.

I have been working, (between other projects) on the first novel, time-line wise, of the series. It is called Lords, and it takes place three years after the pandemic. Needless to say, I have a great deal of rewriting to do after lessons learned in the present-day Covid pandemic.

In Lords, the following questions are answered: Why did I choose stilted, formal language? Why are there bathrooms and not aqueducts? Why are there lords and not presidents? Why use blades, bows, and shotguns too?

Some readers have observed that Hunter’s Snare reads like historical fiction. Others feel it reads like fantasy. While I made a creative decision to use simplified, formal English, the novels are not historical fiction. In fact, they are futuristic! 

They depict a future society that has inherited knowledge of our present, a history of technology, but an inability to maintain or create the technology anew. In many ways, I was influenced by the world that Anne McCaffrey created in her Pern novels.

Anyone who has read Hunter’s Snare can see that while it takes place in the future, eighty years after a pandemic, it does not fit well into science fiction. It might be called dystopian by some, but it lacks the elements of the dystopian genre in that the society works rather well and is not disaffected

The biggest hurdle in classifying Hunter’s Snare is that it is, at heart, a mystery! It is the tale of the new alpha male in town, arriving to replace the beloved, dead lord. His first task is to catch a serial killer who has run amok for years. Still, selling the novel as a mystery would target readers who expect cozy mysteries or police detective stories. They would not be happy.

Finally, there is the erotic side to Hunter’s Snare. There are strong sex scenes, one that includes two males having sex. This causes some promo sites to categorize the novel as “erotica,” and many sites refuse to promote it because of those few scenes. You can now understand the problem of genre categorization for some works of fiction.

In fact, my Future Past series can only be categorized properly as “Speculative Fiction.”  It is totally possible if in a few years from now, a pandemic decimated our world, and a few survivors opted to re-form society by keeping that which was tried and true. 

Coming soon: Roses & Thorns (Vampires in the Mist- Vol 6)

Much has happened to Rose since that fateful party at South Beach. She’s been seduced by vampires, hunted on a moonlit shore, abducted to a private, hidden island,  chosen as a companion of the blood, and sent as a novice to a convent full of witches. 

She was abducted by the legendary witch Ygraine, and almost killed by the mad vampire monk Savilla. In between the hair-raising adventures, she often finds herself in very interesting, romantic situations. After all, she is surrounded by lusty vampires, sexy witches, and  red-hot Scots!  

Rose returns to the convent, only to be once again swept away into the most incredible adventure yet, as secrets long kept by her family come back to threaten her life and her sanity. But Rose is not the naive, young girl she once was, and now she has something bigger than herself to fight for.

Come, join Rose in her world of  vampires, witches, monsters, magic, and steamy passion. Forget your troubles as she faces and conquers hers. Let the magic of paranormal fantasy  take you away! 

 

 

Erotica, Anyone?


Sometimes, the lessons learned are not the ones the teacher intended.
I have been deeply concerned from the start, with the quality of my writing. The time I spend editing, running spelling checks, checking grammar, getting beta readers to find plot holes, errors in tense, and so on, is probably four times the amount spent writing.
I want to sell my books, of course, but I also want to be respected and admired as an author. I love it when a reviewer calls my prose “exquisite,” as some have done. I get a thrill when readers say that my characters are complex and developed. I get heart palpitations when someone tells me that they wish our world was like Daniel’s Fork. Still, not every reviewer and reader hones in on the things that I consider the “elements” of a good book.
I have a habit that has turned out to be a double-edged blade: my insistence that everything I do, I do to the best of my ability. I firmly hold to my opinion that while I write “fiction,” and that entails a certain degree of creativity when it comes to story telling, my characters should be as true to their nature as I can make them.
My main example is William Evers. I structured him as a non-conformist, a rebel at heart. My crafting of his personality in Daniel’s Fork was done with the objective that he should not be liked by the reader too soon. The reader will like Setiyah best, then Jonas and Eric. Later, in the sequel novella, Will begins to grow in the reader’s affections. A clearer picture of the protagonist develops. He has, after all, a whole series during which he’ll develop and become the man he is meant to be.
Will Evers is amoral, insensitive, arrogant, and ambitious- not good traits for a hero! He is also sexually uninhibited and dominant. The original title of the book was A Whore and a Rogue, and it pertained entirely to him! So, if my lead male is a whore and a rogue, he must be a strongly sexual character, and his sexuality must reflect his amorality!
As a result of William’s character, I knew I had to have erotic scenes in the novel, but I did not want to write a book that was erotica. I opted to include two chapters in the novel that have erotic content. Two chapters out of thirty five is not too much; the novel is a mystery after all. A romance would have much more sexual content.
True to my ethic, the erotic content would have to be explicit and done well. After all, a stallion like Will Evers would have to be true to character, as in great in bed. Each erotic scene took the entire chapter. The scenes came out, in my opinion, well indeed! However, in the overall scheme of things, the prose, the characters, the setting, the humor, the tone, and atmosphere are the things I spent most of my time crafting, and the ones that make me most proud.
Reviewers and readers, however, don’t have the same mindset. I found, to my surprise, that the things most reviewers zoomed into first, were the sex scenes! 
A few reviewers commented that the scenes were “gratuitous” and unnecessary. One reviewer called them “as close to pornography” as you could get. Some called them “the best erotic scenes”  they’ve ever read.
A couple of reviewers went as far as saying that they only gave the book four stars because of the explicit sexual content.  Others gave it five stars because of the sexual content. But whatever each one said, one thing was obvious: the scenes made an impact, and any author would be a fool not to use “impact” to his or her own purpose.
It occurred to me that this was something I could turn to my advantage. I could possibly use the erotic content to draw attention to the series. I aimed to do something daring: something I never would have considered two years ago. I decided to use the explicit erotic chapters, not only the ones in Daniel’s Fork, but also ones from the other books, and release them as a separate erotica collection.