Confessions of a Genre Writer
by Sharon Lynn Fisher
I sometimes feel like a square peg in a round hole. When you write a niche subgenre like sci-fi romance, people tend to assume that’s also what you read. It’s a natural conclusion. And I do read sci-fi romance, it’s just that until about a year after I wrote my first novel (GHOST PLANET), I didn’t even know it was a thing.
What I mostly read in my middle grade and young adult years was fantasy (with romantic subplots, if possible) — Tolkien, Tad Williams, David Eddings, Melanie Rawn, and Robert Jordan, for example. To this day I’ve still read very little Golden Age sci-fi. I did read and love one of the sci-fi greats, Anne McCaffrey, but to me the Pern stuff was more like fantasy set on an Earth-like planet.
In sixth grade I read a book based on the Star Wars world by Alan Dean Foster, SPLINTER OF THE MIND’S EYE. It must have made quite an impression on me, as I still remember it pretty clearly. And I enjoyed the dark, literary sci-fi of Margaret Atwood. The smart, original SNOW CRASH, by Neal Stephenson. The oddly compelling ENDER’S GAME. I read the obligatory STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND, and found it … strange. Lem’s SOLARIS as well, which I loved. Just in the last year I devoured the WOOL series — psychological sci-fi is my favorite variety.
So this is not exactly the reading resume of a hard-core sci-fi fan, and I’ve never pretended to be that. Accordingly the books I write are not geared toward the hard-core sci-fi reader, but to readers who enjoy genre mash-ups, a healthy serving of soft science with just a dash of hard science, and, most critically, a slow-burning romance.
I think what planted the seeds for my interest in sci-fi romance was my love for the Star Wars movies growing up. I also watched all of the permutations of Star Trek, and have a special fondness for The Next Generation. I suspect the Deanna Troi/Worf relationship played a part in inspiring me to write a romance between a human woman and a member of a genetically engineered insect/human race (THE OPHELIA PROPHECY).
Soon after I wrote GHOST PLANET, I watched two very good series that probably helped to cement my interest in the subgenre: the Battlestar Galactica reboot and Firefly. Compelling characters, twisty plots, plenty of action, and enough romance to keep things interesting.
Also I think for writers, everything we read goes into a giant mental crockpot. A list of some my favorite reads over time sheds even more light on how I ended up blending speculative fiction and romance:
• A WRINKLE IN TIME (sci-fi with a bit of teen romance)
• Novels by classical authors like Jane Austen, Anthony Trollope, and George Eliot (romances, every single one)
• JANE EYRE (gothic romance)
• OUTLANDER (time travel romance)
• WATERSHIP DOWN (Okay, odd man out. But I also loved MAIA by this author, which was epic fantasy romance.)
• MISTS OF AVALON (fantasy with romantic subplots)
Just in the last year I read AMONG OTHERS by Jo Walton, and holy genre mash-ups, batman. Literary fantasy set in the ‘70s, featuring a heroine who sees fairies and is obsessed with Golden Age sci-fi. I think one blurb for this novel referred to it as a love letter to books, and that it certainly is. If I ever get the time to fill in the holes on my sci-fi card, I’m going to use this quirky little book as my guide.
About The Ophelia Prophecy
Our world is no longer our own. We engineered a race of superior fighters — the Manti, mutant humans with insect-like abilities. Twenty-five years ago they all but destroyed us. In Sanctuary, some of us survive. Eking out our existence. Clinging to the past.
Some of us intend to do more than survive.
Asha and Pax — strangers and enemies — find themselves stranded together on the border of the last human city, neither with a memory of how they got there.
Asha is an archivist working to preserve humanity’s most valuable resource — information — viewed as the only means of resurrecting their society.
Pax is Manti, his Scarab ship a menacing presence in the skies over Sanctuary, keeping the last dregs of humanity in check.
Neither of them is really what they seem, and what humanity believes about the Manti is a lie.
With their hearts and fates on a collision course, they must unlock each other’s secrets and forge a bond of trust before a rekindled conflict pushes their two races into repeating the mistakes of the past.
Check out Nikyta’s review to see what she thought of The Ophelia Prophecy!
About Sharon Lynn Fisher
A Romance Writers of America RITA Award finalist and a three-time RWA Golden Heart Award finalist, SHARON LYNN FISHER lives in the Pacific Northwest. She writes books for the geeky at heart—sci-fi flavored stories full of adventure and romance—and battles writerly angst with baked goods, Irish tea, and champagne. Her works include Ghost Planet (2012), The Ophelia Prophecy (2014), and Echo 8 (2014). You can visit her online at SharonLynnFisher.com.