Though Star Trek launched me into reading science fiction, I was also disappointed by it. ALL of the books I read either had a woman character who was wallpaper or didn’t have any women at all.
There was nothing that represented me.
So along came Marion Zimmer Bradley and her Sword and Sorceress series. All the stories were about women!
I devoured those and started looking for fantasy books with pictures of women on them. That was a big lie itself. Sometimes I’d get a book thinking the character on the cover would be prominent in the story. Nope. Not fair, not fair.
But I felt like I finally was seeing something that played to this audience of one.
Then there was that pesky thing called writing.
I had no clue what entailed each of the genres. During those first years, I followed entirely where the idea took me. That usually landed me in short stories that didn’t have a genre. I naively thought they might be literary. Didn’t realize the problem was my approach.
My first novel was a mystery/thriller. Thriller was still a category of mystery at the time. I did the amnesia story because, really, what better way to learn about a character than have them learn from a blank slate.
Of course, I didn’t realize that it was a TV trope. During the 1970s and 1980s, amnesia was a very common storyline.
- Ralph hits a train on Greatest American Hero and forgets he’s a superhero.
- Steve crashes his plane on The Six Million Dollar Man and forgets he’s bionic.
- Data crashes on a planet on Star Trek The Next Generation and tangles with frightened village
I ended up abandoning the story and tried for a fantasy.
And then I ran into the terrifying aspect of fantasy: World Building.
It seemed like every writer was saying that to build a world, you have to get a three-ring binder, a pack of tabs, and answer a whole lot of questions.
That’s before you even write. Everyone said that you needed all this before you started writing. I was pantser, and it just shut me down. I didn’t write the fantasy.
Then enter co-writer. My writing was so messed up because of all the random writing advice that I had accumulated that I doubted I could ever write a novel-length book without help. So I joined up with another writer and produced my first completed book: A thriller.
We eventually broke up. Suddenly I had the realization that in all the time I’d been cowriting, I hadn’t learned how to solve my messy writing problems. So a fantasy became my “Get back on the horse book.” That book became Rogue God.
Science fiction came next. I was writing a story for an anthology call called Ghosts on Drugs. I’d aid previously I would probably never have a story that wanted to be a novel…and this one defied that. It became Crying Planet.
Mystery came last year with Golden Lies, after I took a class on Research from Dean Wesley Smith (great class, but you need Depth to take it). It helped me figure out that all my reading about Hollywood while I was growing up made for a good mystery.
What’s next? Probably a thriller!