None of the writers in our Greece Writers Group share the same genre. Although the craft of writing and that burning need to grab the reader’s attention and never let go, is common to all writing and writers, we each gavitate to our favorite niche. I wondered what drew each of us to our favorite genre. In answer, each offered to write a blog about their choice and what draws them to it.
So this is the first blog in my What’s Youre Genre series here at Books and writers. Please share your favorite genre in the comment section. Many have more than one!
Today, I introduce John Caligiuri, science fiction author. He graciously sent me the answer to my question for this blog and also posted it on his website, http://guardiantreepublishinbg.com
Why I Write Science Fiction
It sounds a bit counterintuitive but Science Fiction gives a writer far more freedom to explore the human condition than traditional fiction novels. When one can create environments, antagonists and protagonists without any limitations the possibilities are endless.
I jumped into a career as a science fiction novelist after forty years in software and the digital electronics industry. I found it (and still find it) an incredible and exhilarating experience. Prospective writers contemplating a similar move could find some of my insights useful.
No one could possibly start at ground zero more than me. Although I hold master degrees in Computer Science and Finance, my college education in formal writing was limited to the mandatory English 101 that every undergraduate is forced to endure. My first career was no help either. The only fiction I wrote there was my department’s annual budget.
Two things drove me to try:
First, a love for literature. Since my childhood, I consumed every historical, science fiction and fantasy novel I could find in my local town library. They opened my mind to a myriad of ‘what if’ scenarios. The seismic changes single individuals made on the course of history is mind-blowing. Science Fiction allows me to explore those possibilities in ways that readers can follow.
Second, a passion for telling stories. Ideas for plots percolated in my mind for many years, and my children endured many snippets of them as bedtime stories. Some ideas I jotted down, but most were filed away and refined in my head over time.
So why are these two points more important than any technical skill in creating a manuscript?
The answer is straight forward. If you read a lot, you know what you enjoy and what you don’t. Foremost, an author, in any genre, must, in my opinion, write to please him or herself. Think about what is appealing about the novels that give you the most pleasure and what you dislike about the ones that bore you. Embrace the style and arc of the good ones and steer clear of what annoys you in the others.
The second part is equally important. You have to have a story to tell. I am not talking about conveying (necessarily) any deep cerebral thoughts. But I am talking about having a unique, entertaining tale to spin. Writers need to get their readers enmeshed in the world they create, and not bore them with an all too predictable plot. If you can convince your readers to laugh and cry along with your protagonist’s misadventures you have a successful book.
Do not mistake me. Solid writing techniques are important. An author must always be honing those skills. But first, and foremost, you need to have a story to tell.
I’m a history buff. It seems ironic that my initial interest in history was generated by a one-semester course, in my college years, in Greek & Roman Mythology. Five years of studying Latin introduced me to Rome and some of its most famous citizens. (Cicero, who fought to bring back the Republic, was my hero.)I spent most of my adult life collecting books about Rome and expected that, in retirement, I would study and write about that era. Then came retirement. Rome’s books collect dust while I dabble in family genealogy and the pioneers of New York State.
My most recent book, “House with a Heart”, tells the story of the pioneer family that built my childhood home 100 years before my family moved there. My greatest desire for that book is that teachers of New York State’s pioneer history find and share this fascinating sketch of life in Western New York during the early 1800’s.
Currently, I am researching and writing the history of Rochester’s airport. After a 28 year career in aviation, friends have been asking when I would write about the airport. My story, the story of the 100 year-old Rochester Airport, will tell of the people who made a difference and the activities that made a difference for the people. I hope to publish before the end of 2021.
So, to sum up, my genre is history and historical fiction. It is largely what I read and what I write. My hope is that those who read what I write find pleasure in the words.
Thank you for commenting, Rick. I DID find great pleasure in reading “House with a Heart.”
Not only did I learn much about local history, I loved the house CHARACTER. A unique approach and you pulled it off so well.
I look forward to reading your next book about Rochester’s airport history. Keep writing!