Guest Author Wednesday dawns bright with my pal Merry Farmer in the spotlight. I first “met” Merry through the Beau Monde and Historical Hearts Through History chapters of the RWA, specifically via the wonderfully insightful blogs she writes. And now, thanks to the friendships forged with romance writers, Merry is on my website with a wonderfully insightful post and an excerpt from her upcoming novel. 🙂
Merry Farmer is an award-winning author of Historical Romance and what she likes to call “Sci-Fi for Women”. She lives in suburban Philadelphia with her two cats and enough story ideas to keep her writing until she’s 132. Her second novel, The Faithful Heart, was a 2102 RONE Award finalist and her unpublished futuristic novel A Man’s World won first place in the Novel: Character category at the 2013 Philadelphia Writer’s Conference. She is out to prove that you can make a living as a self-published author and to help others to do the same.
When History and Sci-Fi Collide by Merry Farmer
I have always loved history. Stories of the people who have come before us, the lives they led and the issues that were important to them, have always sparked my imagination. It’s why I’ve started my writing career by penning historical romance. Recreating the worlds of the past gives me such a thrill! I have so much fun doing it.
So why am I writing science fiction now?
I’ll let you in on a little secret. There isn’t a huge difference between historical fiction and science fiction. It might seem like there is when you first think about it. One deals with the past, after all, and the other deals with the future. The difference in technology alone is enough to boggle the mind. How can you switch between one and the other?
The way I see it, whether I’m writing historical fiction or science fiction, I’m creating worlds that are different than the everyday world we live in. A story that takes place in the past requires a certain amount of context before the reader can understand it. Historical settings are unique, and the social and technological rules need to be established before the characters and plot can be developed. The same is true of futuristic worlds. They are different from the way we understand things. How the world looks, how people talk, and the norms that they operate under need to be set up the same way historical worlds are before the story makes sense.
For the science fiction world I’ve created in the Grace’s Moon series, the similarity goes even farther than that. I would call the series a very historical-feeling future world. The initial seed of the idea came from me asking myself “If a technologically advanced people found themselves suddenly without any technology or infrastructure and needed to start over, what era of historical progress would they lapse back into?” I actually ended up doing a lot of historical research into how civilizations form and pre-history in order to write this futuristic book!
The discoveries I made were fascinating. One of the issues that intrigued me the most was the question of how certain animals became domesticated. How would my futuristic interplanetary colonists domesticate and use the animals on the habitable virgin moon they crash on? It turns out that cows and sheep, for instance, are pretty much programed to be domesticated. They’re docile and inclined to follow whoever feeds them and takes care of them. It was a useful bit of history that worked its way into my futuristic story.
Other historical developments—such as the question of how people first found metal ores and figured out how to mine them, make metal, and work it into tools and weapons—ended up being a key point in how the plot of my entire series unfolds. The bullets that the crash survivors start out with can only last so long. I spent many a fun hour contemplating what they would do and how they would defend themselves and hunt for food (and each other) once the bullets ran out. I also daydreamed for ages about what kind of houses they could construct with the resources they had, what kind of plumbing they would develop, how they would react to the climate of the moon, and a million other issues that are all born in history.
Without my knowledge of history, I don’t think I could have written these science fiction novels. The physical rules of the futuristic world I’ve created come straight from history. The political and social rules…well, honestly, they reflect the political and social rules of the past as well. History is full of plots and characters and information, all of which translate easily to the future.
And now an excerpt from Saving Grace, Merry’s upcoming release scheduled for July 2014~~
“Grace! What the hell do you think you’re doing?”
The click of Kinn’s crossbow as he surged toward them split the air. “Let go of her now!”
Sean didn’t back down, even with Kinn’s crossbow aimed straight at him. Carrie and Danny reached them a moment later. Carrie was red with anger but Danny’s face was as white as a sheet and his blue eyes bulged with fear and anger behind his glasses. She would catch it later, but now she had a job to do.
She jerked out of Sean’s grip and turned to face Kinn and Kutrosky.
“What is going on here?” she demanded with every ounce of command she could muster.
Kutrosky narrowed his eyes, but Kinn was first to answer.
“I was charged with apprehending this criminal.”
“Think you’re gonna do it, jarhead?”
Kutrosky raised his rifle and aimed at Kinn’s chest.
“Put that down!” Grace said.
Kinn lowered his crossbow and stared at Kutrosky as if he were a flea. Kutrosky didn’t flinch, although the four of his people with him shifted restlessly.
“I said put that down!” Grace demanded.
Kutrosky flicked his eyes to her, then back to Kinn. He shuffled in his spot, then lowered his gun and narrowed his eyes as he looked to her again.
“Well, well. Grace Hargrove.”
“Brian Kutrosky.” Grace nodded then pressed on. “You of all people should know that this is insanity.”
Kinn’s glance snapped back to her. His whole body was tense with battle.
Kutrosky frowned, changing his grip on his rifle and lowering it further. “Tell that to soldier-boy here.”
Indignation bristled through Grace, but she kept it in check and turned to Kinn.
“You can’t kill him, Kinn. You can’t kill anyone.” She turned back to Kutrosky. “No one can kill anyone.”
“He’s a dangerous criminal, Grace.” The edge of impatience in Kinn’s rumbling voice was palpable.
Kutrosky barked out a laugh. “Sure. Right. I’m a dangerous criminal.” His words dripped sarcasm. “Somebody stop me before I sabotage the Terra Project!”
Kinn snapped his crossbow to ready again, finger twitching over the trigger, jaw flexing in anger. Kutrosky’s rifle was back at his shoulder in a flash and the clicks of guns being cocked echoed all around them.
“Stop it!” Grace held up her hands, this time shaking with rage. “Put your guns down! All of you! On the ground! Now! You too Kinn.”
Her heart hammered in the silence that followed. Nobody moved. Even the breeze seemed to hold its breath. Slowly, reluctantly, Kinn lowered his crossbow and tossed it to the grass.