“I think you’re a fantasy writer and you don’t even know it.” My friend and critique partner, Steampunk Beth, lobbed this morsel at me over tea at Montague’s, a Victorian coffee shop guaranteed to soak away writer’s block.
Her pronouncement startled me. I’ve always been a romance writer, first and foremost. True, I prefer that romance with a fairy or an immortal or perhaps a phoenix or two, but until recently I considered my paranormal dabbling as a distant cousin of the mighty Sci-Fi/Fantasy genre.
I really should’ve known better. I grew up on Star Wars and Star Trek and have a brother who’s a dungeon master to this day. Case ran D&D in our basement for years. As a teen, I’d hide in my room or squeeze by the table they’d set up on my way out for a date with a complete jerk.
The boys hanging out with my brother had odd obsessions with dwarves and wizards, trolls and vampires. They wore shirts with slogans I didn’t understand. And they left pizza out for days. But the ones capable of speaking to a member of the opposite sex were always polite. They treated me with the awed respect peculiar to socially awkward males with Tolkien in their veins. I thought they were nice. And weird.
It took me way too long to realize that I should be looking for a boyfriend among their midst and not on the football team or in a garage band. But I did wise up. I got me the Holy Grail of nerds. I married an engineer. And if I had a daughter I’d tell her, “Ignore every cool boy you meet. Hang with the computer geeks and the gamers. Then marry an engineer as soon as humanly possible.”
1. They value intelligence.
2. They can’t believe a female would ever talk to them and are so grateful when one does that they’ll do almost anything to repeat the experience.
3. They appreciate both creativity and technical acumen.
4. They happily eat culinary accidents.
5. They won’t make fun of you for having a degree in fine art, music history, or philosophy. Well, probably not.
Despite being raised with a nerd, marrying a nerd, and producing tiny nerds of my own, I didn’t realize that I was myself a nerd. But Steampunk Beth’s comment wasn’t the first sign.
I recently attended my very first sci-fi convention, a tiny con here in town, and was surprised by how comfortable I felt. No, I didn’t know all the lingo. I don’t read sci-fi at all, and I read very little traditional fantasy. But it didn’t matter. I was accepted. I particularly enjoyed the panel on Steampunk that discussed the genre’s “anything goes” approach to the very concept that inspired its name. I’d always thought that if I wrote anything technical, even if that technology involved automatons and steam computers, I’d have to make my inventions plausible. No so. Steampunk is nothing if not tongue-in-cheek.
And I think, for the most part, that’s typical of fans of any of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy subgenres. While they’re passionate about their fiction, art, and hobbies, they retain a collective sense of humor that allows for unique acceptance and originality.
I have to say, I’m hooked on the idea of writing fantasy, whatever that means for me. And I can’t wait to hang with the fanboys and fangirls again.
This weekend Mom and I are heading to GalaxyFest, a joint Sci-Fi/Fantasy and Literacy event. We’ll be doing a children’s story hour with The Dragon and the Turtle and participating in panels, but I’m most looking forward to soaking up the passion for story and creativity that swirls around these imaginative folks. If you’re in the Colorado Springs area and you enjoy dragons, elves, aliens, gears and steam, or entertainment with the word “star” in it, I hope you’ll join us.
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