In 2002 when I started writing, my one and only love was speculative fiction. It was nearly all I read, and the only thing I could think of to write. I wobbled back and forth between fantasy and science fiction for my first five manuscripts. By then I began to feel I was working out the kinks of writing process, which meant I’d started to pay attention to what publishers were actually buying.
Because I’m a Christian, my worldview permeates everything I write, whether or not it’s front and center in any particular work. And though my speculative fiction was definitely not exempt from this, CBA publishers are not snapping up spec fic as a general rule. Yes, some got published, but not a lot. What did? Romance.
I wasn’t a big romance reader, but I decided to give it a try. My church library had a shelf of Steeple Hill Love Inspired novels, and I read a dozen or more in October of 2005, then wrote my own during NaNo that year. It had some awesome scenes in it, but as a whole, I wasn’t thrilled. I went back to polishing one of my fantasy manuscripts, and in 2006, my NaNo was another fantasy draft.
But no. I wanted to be traditionally published. The fact remained that an excellently written speculative fiction novel had a much lower chance of selling than an equally excellent contemporary romance. That meant taking a closer look at exactly what about speculative fiction appealed to me, and studying how those elements could transfer over to contemporary work. (Historical sells well, but it’s really REALLY not where my head is at, either research or writing-wise.)
Things started to come together when I took multi-published author Holly Lisle’s course How to Think Sideways. Definitely every lesson did not quite work with my brain, but some of the early ones were vital to helping me crack open how to write what I love and what I know–and how to bring my passions across genres.
Which is when I found myself planning a series around a trio of girls who are trying to live locally, sustainably, and gently on the land, starting with the (now complete) novel, Domino’s Game. As near as I can figure out, this market has been largely unexplored to date, and I’m excited about all the story ideas running through my head at the moment. Two other possible series! I’m truly hoping some of these stories can see the light of day, now that I have an excellent agent and a novella publishing contract.
What about speculative fiction? A quarter to a third of my reading still fits in that genre. I love the weird and whacky places these stories can take me! But for now, I’m willing to let other authors write them and let me tag along. Maybe at some point I’ll write fantasy again…maybe not. I’m content with where I’m at right now.