Monday, June 7, 2021

Musings on my muse: The care and feeding of my inner control freak

If you met me, you would probably think I'm perfectly normal.  But inside, I do have a quirk that makes me a tad different from most folks: on one level, I'm a control freak. This might surprise a lot of people who see me as reasonably laid back (except when I'm worried about my kids, and then I freak out).  

But I'm a different person when I write books. It's not just being a writer that makes me different. Technology has made it much easier to write and to publish, which has revealed that gazillions of folks have that ambition. Some of them write hoping to make money, some write hoping for recognition or fame, and some write because they enjoy it. I write because I want people to read what I have written. Let me stress that—what I have written. What appeals to me writing stories is that by writing them as science fiction or fantasy, I control not only the characters but the setting. I can create my own worlds, each with its own appearance, environment, inhabitants, and cultures. And I can populate those worlds with whatever characters I think would make for an interesting story.  

In the Wakanreo trilogy (Alien Bonds, Alien Vows, and Alien Skies), I created a world where  an alien people mate because of biological reaction that cannot be controlled. I wanted to create a society in which sex was completely divorced from morality, and where nudity was not linked to a desire to provoke a sexual reaction. I also foresaw greater equality between the sexes and among socioeconomic groups; because there was no such thing as marriage, either arranged or from affection, and divorce did not exist, class structures were too difficult to enforce. Also, since pairing off was purely pheromone-driven, looks didn't matter. Add to this the question of love; just because you paired off with someone doesn't mean you have to love him or her.

In Tribes, I wanted my readers to inhabit a world where there was one overriding loyalty, at least in a legal sense. Belonging to a tribe was a a life-long and immutable thing. One's tribe provided security, a safety net against disaster, and also determined what was legal for an individual. On the other hand, if someone had no tribe, his life was doomed to slavery, drudgery, and degradation. Interjecting a slave into such a setting provided a way to see how the other characters behave toward him.

But setting a story on another world or in the future isn't the only way to control all the facets of my story. In Hidden Magic, I gave some characters magical abilities, but plunked them down in a society that feared and suppressed magic. I made them brother and sister, and then, because I enjoy a romance, I had each of them find someone they loved.  

I don't only read science fiction and fantasy. I enjoy mysteries, historical fiction and historical romance, and even sometimes young adult novels. But I don't think I would ever write in those genres because I would be stuck with the rules imposed by reality. 

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