I must be the only writer in the world to finish two novels with no idea what genre I was writing! However, when I launched Fly Out of the Darkness as an E book, I decided that I ought to find out.
So I let my fingers do some walking through the blogosphere. That’s how I discovered I am writing Speculative Fiction
Here’s Nathan E. Lily, on a blog called Green Tentacles: “Speculative fiction is a term, attributed to Robert Heinlein in 1941,” that is “more than the collective title for works of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. The term also embraces works that don’t fit neatly into the separate genres…. stories on the fringe.”
Well, there I go again. Like so many times in my life, I am square peg in round hole. or is it a round peg in a square hole?
Then I found a blog that came even closer to what I was doing — K. Stoddard Hayes’s Worldbuilding Rules, “about the most distinct aspect of speculative fiction: building imaginary worlds” that we make believable “with carefully selected details that create the right landscape for our characters.”
That’s it: my world is imaginary but not fantastic. Except for a few minor items like horses that fly (on strictly aerodynamic principles), my settings are solidly realistic, bristling with details from the draining of the East Anglian Fens.
Hayes posted a blog by John Wiswell who asks “please, for the love of God, don’t write another redundant piece of pseudo-history, especially not another sword-and-sorcery mono myth in an imagined England.” Oh oh! Is that me? Though my plot is based on the draining of the Fen, I have two reasons for inventing my Marshland world: first, I want to use flora and fauna from both East Anglia and my boating adventures in New England and the Midwest; too, inventing a world frees my plot from the strict chronology of historical events.
I am eternally grateful to the internet for telling me what I am doing:
“Annis,” Hayes (who turns out to be a cousin many times removed) wrote to me, “the little peek I’ve had into your [series] tells me that you’ve done exactly what John suggested that writers should do: you started with a historical setting that you love, and use it to spin an original world. And it helps a lot that your starting point, the draining of the Fens, has nothing to do with any “game of thrones” or other aristocratic power struggles; it’s about an economic conflict where ordinary folks are being deprived of their land and their way of life, so that someone else can get rich. I can’t wait to read these!”