Why We Write

It’s been a scary year. The events of the past three weeks have felt like some kind of demon cherry on top of a glut of instability and fear-mongering. No one can know for sure what happens next, but the signs point to very unsettling possibilities.

I’ve seen all kinds of reactions from the writing community, ranging from dearths of creativity to fierce rallying cries. All those reactions are valid. Personally, I’ve been somewhere in the middle.

But it’s all got me thinking about the power of what we do. Writing is art, it’s communication, it’s portrayal of the world. It can be used for wondrous ends and horrendous ones. You’ve only got to look at the average British tabloid to see ample evidence of the latter. In many ways, those examples make it all the more encumbent on the rest of us writers to balance the scale in the other direction.

We write to process our thoughts and our ideas. We write to work through past hurts and present difficulties. We write to explore possibilities, to warn of dangers and to sow our hopes. Speculative fiction does this in ways other genres can’t, because it isn’t restricted to the world as we know it. Its scope extends to the futuristic, the fantastic, the alternative… with all of those things we can explore ‘what ifs’ and share visions of things that haven’t yet happened or delve into human nature from entirely new perspectives. The blog post I wrote on the importance of science fiction amply describes my thoughts on why it matters.

Our writing can draw attention to world issues by portraying them, veiled or openly, through the viewpoints of our characters. In doing this, we’re taking ideas beyond the factual, beyond informative articles and projections, and actually turning them into real-life situations. We only truly relate to these things by empathising with others going through them, and fiction provides that empathy in a way no other medium can. When I show what my persecuted refugee character is feeling, I enable my readers to connect with her and others like her. When I show how my rebel protagonist stands up against her totalitarian government, I enable readers to experience her anger and determination to put things right. When I show my alien character struggling to overturn her species’ discrimination against humans, I hope readers will see parallels in the way we continue to treat those we deem ‘inferior’.

Fiction is a reflection of its era, and the one we’re in now is rife with pitfalls and possibilities that we need to investigate. We need to explore the dangers through story before it’s too late for empathy. We need to show the bright alternatives before we’ve steered our path too far away from them. We need to work through our own fears, putting them into words both as catharsis and signpost.

This is why stories matter. This is why our society needs them more than ever.

This is why we write.

Killing It Softly

Wow, I seem to be all about the promo at the moment. I’m certainly not complaining that I’ve been able to announce a new publication for three consecutive months. That is fricking awesome. *grin* But I always intended this blog to contain other stuff too… writerly ramblings, pedantry, geekiness.

I’ll get back to that stuff. Promise.

But in the meantime, Killing It Softly, the all-female horror anthology featuring my story, ‘Rule of Five’, is now out!

 

Killing It Softly: A Digital Horror Fiction Anthology of Short Stories (The Best by Women in Horror Book 1) by [Fiction, Digital, Cunningham,Elaine, Holder,Nancy, Sydney,M.J., Rose,Rie Sheridan, Boudreau,Chantal, Blackthorn,Rose, McBride,Tracie, Gill,Carole, Rath, Tina , Suzanne Reynolds-Alpert]

 

 

This is my fifteenth fiction publication. Fifteen. *checks again to be sure* Yep. Amazing. It’s my second anthology sale. And it’s the third time ‘Rule of Five’ has been published. That little story has certainly done me proud. As I’ve mentioned before, it was the first story I ever sold. I love the fact that it’s still with me now, making sales and getting promoted, like a faithful friend along for the ride.

This is a story about OCD, a term that is bandied about far too often with complete disregard for its real implications. Having particular standards isn’t OCD. Liking things a certain way isn’t OCD. That ‘D’ stands for ‘disorder’, and those things are not disorders. If this story in any way manages to shed some light on what it feels like to have obsessive compulsive disorder, I’m happy.

It’s also scary. It is a horror story, after all.

And in the lead-up to Halloween, the Kindle version of the anthology is available for only 99 cents! After that, it goes up to $5.99, so I highly recommend grabbing a terrific bargain while you can. There are 32 stories here, written by some amazingly talented women. All for 99 cents, people. What are you waiting for?

It’s time to get spooky. Snuggle up on the couch, keep the lights on, and get reading.

Happy Samhain, everyone.

Candy Comfort

My flash story, ‘Candy Comfort’, is now out at Daily Science Fiction!

I had a lot of fun writing this one. Space pirates are always cool, right? Plus I got to put liquorice into a story for the first time ever. I eat enough of it while I’m writing… I’ve just never had an excuse to write about it. It only gets a brief cameo in this story, but still. Liquorice!

I like to think Dutch double salt liquorice will still be proudly manufactured in space-faring societies of the future. In fact, if there’s a future without salt liquorice, I don’t want to know. Not to mention all the other wondrous varieties.

There’s a dystopia all on its own, right there. A world without this:

Image result for salt liquorice
Photo by Denni Schnapp, Flickr

Noooooo…

Anyway. Now I want liquorice and I don’t have any, so I will stop talking about it and direct you once more to my story of piracy, sweet consumption, social inequality, risky parenting, tragedy, and hope.

I recommend having some sweets on hand while you read.

 

Deep Magic – Out Now!

The August edition of speculative e-magazine, Deep Magic, is now live. It features, among a fabulous table of contents, my story ‘Her Glimmering Facade’. It also has gorgeous cover art. Just look at it!

Deep Magic - August 2016 by [Brown, John D, Thompson, Eldon, Russell, Josi, Power, Stephen S, Tahmaseb, Charity, Powers, Beth, Wood, Eleanor]

This story is sort of a sci-fi mystery. It has twists and turns and tragedy… and I really can’t say much more about it without ruining the plot. Usually I’ll summarise a story’s theme in one of these announcements, but even that would be giving things away. Hopefully that fills you with desperate intrigue and a need to know more… If not, the ‘Look Inside’ feature on Amazon gives you the first few hundred words of the story before the preview cuts out (as well as the entirety of Stephen S. Power’s ‘The Catskill Dragon’), so go and read it for a taster if you’d like.

Deep Magic has recently relaunched after a ten-year hiatus, so it’s great to see another pro speculative fiction market back in action. Go send them some love and a few quid, and pick up what looks to be a terrific read.

All purchasing options are on their site – check it out!

 

 

False Hearts

Laura Lam‘s latest novel, False Hearts, is a departure from her previous YA fantasy series. It’s a fast-paced sci-fi techno-thriller, and awesome hyphenated adjectives are the least of its strengths.

This book is a serious page turner. Once I started reading, I could hardly put it down. It more than met my need for a riveting, all-consuming read. More than that, it has a wealth of elements I adored. It’s science fiction. It’s a mystery thriller. It’s packed with fascinating, well-constructed techno marvels. It’s set in San Francisco. It deals with issues of consciousness. It’s set against the background of a secretive religious cult. It has grey areas aplenty.

And best of all, it features a pair of awesome protagonists with a highly unique perspective on life. Taema and Tila are twins. More than that, they were conjoined twins, separated in their teens, and still dealing with the psychological impact of having grown up with somebody else a literal part of them, having never been alone, having each of them know every single thing about the other. When they’re separated, all of that changes. The story is as much about the impact that has on each of them, and how it feels for Taema to discover that the person from whom it used to be physically impossible to keep secrets now has a massive one that threatens both of their lives.

I loved the interaction between the sisters. I really enjoyed the back-and-forth narrative and the clever use of viewpoint to show the past and the present simultaneously. Taema’s chapters revolve around the present – the terrifying dilemma she finds herself in when her sister is arrested for murder. Tila’s chapters recall the past: the sisters’ upbringing in the cult that refused them treatment for their condition, and the consequences of their determination to seek help when their shared heart begins to fail.

It’s a cleverly constructed novel with superb pacing throughout. The balance between the past and present viewpoints is perfect, allowing necessary insight from the twins’ past at just the right points in the present storyline. Their distinct personalities come through vibrantly, and I was rooting for each of them in turn. The story also portrays an intriguing futuristic society – an almost-utopia on the surface, with lurking dystopic menaces underneath.

For a fast-paced thriller, this novel has a ton of layers. I think that’s what I loved most about it.

If you love a good story with fascinating protagonists, more than one attention-grabbing setup, ample twists and turns, and action in droves, look no further. This is the droid you’re looking for.

Happy Now?

I rarely, if ever, post political or world event thoughts on this blog. This is my place to discuss writing, books, creativity, and general geekiness. But I can’t remember ever having agreed so strongly with a blog post, so today I’m sharing this one.

Katyboo1's Weblog

It is day four in the Big Brexit house.

I had hoped after Friday’s absolute catastrophe of a day that the country might somehow magically rally over the weekend. I mean, when you plunge your country into possible ruin on the promise of a golden future that will allow it to rise like a phoenix from the flames, you have a plan, right?

As it turns out, you don’t. The only person that seems to have any plan at all, and be acting on it rather than just spouting meaningless Churchillian rhetoric is Nicola Sturgeon, and I can’t even vote for her.

I was distraught and angry on Friday. I had hoped to feel better by today. Instead I am running on barely controlled rage and getting more enraged by the moment.

Here are a few things I am furious about:

Firstly, leave voters telling me to calm down. I’m sorry…

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