Sunday, October 7, 2012

Author Spotlight - LINDA SWIFT - Speculative Fiction--What is it?

Meet the Author: Linda Swift
Author website

I began writing at ten, first poems, next a play and wrote my first romance novel at sixteen. Then life happened. I married, had a son and daughter, went to college and began a teaching career. . . in that order. I would not have missed any of those experiences for the world but my desire to be an author lived on in hibernation.

In time, I resumed writing poetry and attended the Jesse Stuart Creative Writing Workshop. Here, for the first time, I met other serious authors. This led to writing short stories and articles and being published.

My dream, however, was to write books so I wrote my second novel, and third, and ... finally succeeded in getting a book published. And another one. Unfortunately, my publisher closed the line I wrote for when my third book was to be released, resulting in an unplanned hiatus. Now I have begun a new career writing E-books and I am excited to be a part of the electronic publishing industry. 

BETWEEN THE PAGES thanks author Linda Swift for writing this very interesting guest blog on speculative fiction to share with our readers. I know they will learn something new about publishing, as I did.

 Speculative Fiction—What is it?

I am an author of published contemporary and historical romance, women’s fiction, short stories and poetry. As if that isn’t enough to keep my readers in a state of confusion, I have recently added speculative fiction to my publishing credits. Only I didn’t know this was what my short stories were until they were given that label by my publisher. In fact, I wasn’t aware this genre existed and I’m betting some who are reading this aren’t either.

Since I now have five speculative fiction stories available online, and a just-released anthology of these five stories in print, I thought I really ought to find out a little more about what this means. My first step was to check my faithful Webster’s New World Dictionary. (Yes, I still love to look up words in my hard copy reference which tells you more than I probably want you to know about my age.) None of the definitions of the word “speculative” seemed to fit the situation at all. I finally settled on “uncertain or risky” as a possible meaning. At least, I know it is always uncertain and risky to publish anything one writes.

Next, I Googled “Speculaltive Fiction” online. And wow! Was I impressed. The term was defined by Wikipedia as “ancient works to cutting-edge, paradigm-changing, and nontraditional intentions of the 21st century. And the names associated with this genre? They read like a who’s who in literature. There were Greek dramatists to William Shakespeare to J.R.R.Tolkien and many more.

I won’t bore you with the long  explanation that I doggedly plowed my way through in order to become more enlightened on the subject. But I will offer one further quote which I think shows the big picture.
“In its broadest sense it (speculative fiction) captures both a conscious and unconscious aspect of human psychology in making sense of the world, reacting to it, and creating imaginary, inventive and artistic expression.”

Armed with this new information I turned my attention to my stories in an effort to see if they would fit the definition. I looked first at Winner Take All, my first-written story of this genre. It is a tale of man against nature and a life-and death struggle between the two. Billy Ray Warren is a good ole southern boy who went up North to make money and comes home to fight the Kudzu that is taking the place. Yes, he is trying to make sense of his world and reacting to it in a positive way.

Nathan, the Buttercups are Blooming is a story about growing old and sick; about the helplessness of losing control of our lives. But Nathan is a fighter, especially when it comes to his beloved wife and his insensitive children. And boy, does he react to the situation he is in. He does not “go gentle into that goodnight” to quote a famous poet.

The disease of epilepsy is at the center of Give It All You’ve Got. This is a tender love story set in a rural mountain school with three main characters who are as mismatched as people can be but their lives become entwined by circumstances beyond their control.  They each react to their narrow world in the only way that makes sense to them. And in so doing, a villain becomes a hero.

Three to Make Ready is a story that deals with the busing issue as it was in the early days of the mandate for US public schools. It takes a look at the situation from both black and white perspective and further examines it from two social classes of white families. This story looks at the big picture from the author’s point of view based on personal experience and believe me, the story contains reaction in spades. 

Last, I examined The Good News. Defining it is difficult even for me as author.  I think it addresses the possibility of  a random occurrence that no one can foresee and the way the people involved react to it. The story deals with a mother’s worst nightmare and her valiant efforts to prevent it.

Have you noticed that my brief blurbs of each of these stories contain the work “react” in them? I think we can assume that my speculative fiction involves reaction of some sort in all the plots.  But rather than dissect them in this manner, I like to think of them as stories that reflect ordinary people living their lives in the best way they can, given their circumstances. Even though you most likely have not experienced what the characters have, I think you can relate to their hopes and fears, their joys and sorrows. And it is this connection that makes a story real to you.  All of them contain a measure of suspense and uncertainty and some unexpected outcomes.  In the past, I have heard this type story referred to as “slice of life” fiction.

Frankly, I don’t care what they are called.  I only care that they are read and that my characters touch the hearts of those who read them. They are available at Amazon and Smashwords for 99cents each.

And if you’d like a complete collection in print, Take Five: Stories of Speculative Fiction was released the last week in September through Publishing by Rebecca J. Vickery and is now available in ebook and print at the above links. The price is $9.95 for print and $2.99 for ebook at this link:



LIKES AND TAGS ARE APPRECIATED

19 comments:

  1. Thank you so much, Lynda, for giving me this opportunity to talk about my newly released book in this genre. I have just completed a book signing at a local coffeehous with four other authors from four states and this book sold well so people seem to like the term. I will be out of town part of the day but I will answer all comments to this blog post and I welccome readers to share their owon opinions.

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  2. That is very interesting. I have never heard that term before. It makes sense the way you explained it. All your stories sounds like they are very moving.
    Sue B

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  3. Here I am, in a motel in Eureka Springs, Ark., checking my mail and the second one pulled me in. I always just scan the many emails that stack up when I'm "on the road." But how could I resist this one?
    See? In writing Speculative Fiction, you are right up there with the big boys. Please have Rebecca read this.
    Excellent as always. You are still at the top of the A list of authors. And don't you think anything else.

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    1. Katsrus/Sue B, thank you for your comments. I'm sure you have read many speculative fiction stories, as I have, without knowing what they were. And yes, these five stories are all stories that will touch your heart, and many you will want to end differently, but they had to end the way they did or else they would have been speculative fiction.

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  4. Linda, as one of your fans, I'm especially pleased to have you as a guest of Between The Pages. I understand the term, Speculative Fiction, so much better after reading this article. Thank you so much for sharing this information.

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  5. Correction to reply to Sue B. The last sentence in my reply should have read "or else they would NOT have been speculative fiction.

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  6. Hi Celia,
    My, you and Jim made good time today. And to think, last night we were having dinner together in Paducah, KY. Thank you for your encouraging words and for your faithful support of my work. And yes, I'll send a link to Rebecca and a few others. Have a good trip rest of the way home to Texas.

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  7. Linda, it is always a pleasure to be your guest and you have been hosting me now for about four years. My guest blogs with you about going "To Hull and Back" led to meeting Celia yeary who has become like a Cyberspace sister" to me. And I am honored to have you for a fan. I look forward to contributing two more guest blogs before the end of this year.

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  8. Linda, I read your definitions of "speculative fiction" and was quite impressed and amazed at the various definitions. I never knew those before now. *g* Thanks for sharing info about each of your stories in "Take Five" and congrat's on its release! I wish you much good luck and success with your book.

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    1. Hi Laura. Thanks for visiting and for your good wishes. And thanks again for your work and Miss Mae's on the cover for Take Five. It has recieved a lot of great comments already.

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  9. Hi Linda and Lynda,
    I really enjoyed this post and it is a very good description of Speculative Fiction. Many famous and infamous writers focused on Speculative Fiction throughout their lives. Without it we would never have had TV series such as Twilight Zone, Inferno, Outer Limits, and even Alfred Hitchcock who was a master of SF. Many of the great plays, operas, and movies are Speculative Fiction, though a large majority often label them dramas or tragedies. MacBeth, Romeo and Juliet, View From the Rear Window, and The Birds are some of my favorites.
    Authors take a possible real life situation, and as Linda has pointed out, explore the reactions and ironic results. These stories aren't for everyone as they often do not include a happy ever after ending, but when written well (as Linda Swift does) they are emotional, moving, and riveting.

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    1. Rebecca, thank you so much for all of your comments and for naming authors and particular examples of SF. I've always loved Hitchcock so is it any wonder I have tried to write some stories patterned after his style? And no, my stories don't have a HEA ending but they have characters I think readers will remember for a while afterwards.

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    2. Hi Rebecca,
      Thank you for visiting and commenting. Linda's articles are always worth the time. She can teach me new things and make me laugh, all at the same time.

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  10. I had to laugh at your first paragraph, Linda. So true. I wrote some and never called it that. Hmm..... Glad to see this genre getting the notice it deserves. Good luck with your books.

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    1. Miriam, thanks for visiting today. I think Speculative Fiction sounds better than Slice of Life, don't you?
      And I see the main ingredient in SF as realism with no holds barred. One person who has read these SF stories has called them "literary." I'd like to think so!

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  11. I'm afraid I will never understand the term Speculative Fiction no matter how well the definition is written. I need baby words. LOL I don't think I've written itm but who knows.
    A very informative blog, Linda. I wish you all the best.

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    1. Sarah, if you have any stories in your closet or drawer that you can't define as a specific genre, why just call them Speculative Fiction. It's a great "catch-all" and sounds very immpressive, don't you think???

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  12. Thanks for explaining speculative fiction, Linda, as I didn't really understand what it was! I'm full of admiration for your ability to write so many different genres.

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  13. Hi Paula,
    Thanks for visiting and for your comments. Sticking to one genre and giving your readers more books in the same style they have read and liked is the best way to do it. My books in many genres tend to confuse readers! But my books reflect different periods of my life and they are what they are.

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