Friday, September 28, 2018

What If...

Posted by: Cindy Spencer Pape
The first question any story starts with is "What if?" What if there was a dragon under the mountain? What if some people had a powerful force that could be turned to good or evil? What if two people who seem unlikely partners on the surface met, had to deal with one another, plus some outside conflict, and fell in love? It's constanly pondering what if that, IMO, makes an author, especially when it comes to genre ficion.

I was asking what if long before I knew I would be a writer. I would overhear one or two sentences as I passed by someone, completely out of context, and then mentally build my own idea of the story. I'd see a product ad on TV and turn it into an entire reality in my brain. I'd rewrite a movie or book if I didn't like the ending. (I had Monica and Chandler from friends married off in my version from season one!) Even as a teen, I'd take my YA books, and write up stories of the characters as adults. A few of them even ended up on paper. This was long before there was a term for fanfic, but yes, I wrote Trixie Belden fanfic, with the characters grown up and married. I was probably about 12.

I always knew I was weird. Other people I knew didn't do this. My first book was about a space fighter pilot and an infantry soldier. Otherwise known as I really didn't like the movie Starship Troopers, but did like the character concepts. Then, after I had actually written that first book, the awful one stashed in the back of a file cabinet that no one should ever see, I joined the Detroit chapter of Romance Writers of America. What I found was priceless.

I wasn't just crazy. I was WRITER crazy. That acceptance made all the difference.

50+ books and stories later, I am still writer crazy. Life has taken some rough turns in the last few years, so I've seen a hiatus in my creative life, and it's making me a whole different kind of nuts. But I know I simply won't be happy again until I'm writing again. Until I'm back to loving the What If?

These are darker times than when I started, for me personally and for my country, even the world. My new works might be a little darker, but I also think that might make them a little more important. Because, to piggy-back on the words of my illustrious colleague Jenny Schwartz, specultaive fiction specifically addresses the What Ifs regarding the essential rules of our reality. Looking at these rules, pondering how things might change if the rules do or what might happen if they don't--that's a powerful tool.

I'll always be a happy endings kind of girl. Making people smile is a big part of why I chose to write romance. But happiness between a couple doesn't mean a perfect world. It just means you have someone beside you to face the rough times. Speculative fiction or reality, I really believe that's the ultimate HEA. To not be alone when you have to face up to the universe.


For a few more days until the end of Spetember, Steam & Sorcery, my award-winning, best-selling steampunk story that kicks off the Gaslight Chronicles, is on sale from Kindle for only $1.99. Click here to have a look. This my What If there was still magic, and computers had been invented in the 1840s world.

You can also find more about me and my books at Happy Autumn!

1 comment:

  1. What if...? I agree so much with your post, Cindy. Those are powerful words - What if...? and the world changes.


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