Fangirl: Doin It for Herself – A Writing Journey by Rose B. Fischer

Fangirl title

Designed by Rose B. Fischer.

In my last few posts, I’ve been talking about the connection between my original science fantasy serial, The Foxes of Synn, and Masters of the Universe/Princess of Power. There are a couple of arcs in my serial which I consider homage to MOTU/POP, but the elements I kept were all things I created or conceptual tropes like “forgotten moon colony” and “barbarian hero.”  My world has many influences from ancient myths and fairytales as well, so He-Man and She-Ra are in good company.  Hardcore He-Man/She-Ra fans may find a few Easter eggs in my work, and I hope they’ll regard them with nostalgia and affection.

There is plenty “new” stuff to be found in my stories.  In fact, there’s as much “new” in my fanfiction as there is in my “original” fiction.  To me that’s the whole point of writing a story — to take an idea or a concept and invest it with myself and my interpretation.  It’s impossible for me to engage with certain tropes or character types without thinking of the examples I’ve encountered in other stories. Man-At-Arms and Obi-Wan Kenobi have permanently colored my interpretation of “the wise one” or “mentor.”  Queen Marlena, Princess Leia, Jessica Atreides, Disney’s Snow White, Wicked Queen, Maleficent, Aurora, and Nala embody female power and authority to me. I can’t write a likable scoundrel or an antihero of any kind without shades of Han Solo and Lando Calrissian. Still, it would be unethical for me to take those characters, strip them of recognizable external elements or backstory and implant them into a story I’m claiming is original. I’ve seen professionally published authors do that, and they probably think no one can tell.

It seems to me that a lot of people who criticize fanfiction are assuming fanfic authors lack the ability to do more than copy from others whom they perceive as more creative.  That’s simply not the case.  There’s a lot of bad fanfiction on the internet, but there are also richly complex, worthwhile labors of love that you might enjoy reading.

I interact with writers who range in age from 12 to 80. It’s my experience that most of us start out either writing fanfiction or writing stories that are mostly derivative works. I was fortunate that I had more experienced writers in my life who challenged and encouraged me to find my own stories and recognize the (admittedly blurry) line between accepting that my work is influenced by what I read and actively taking from another piece of fiction. The need to create stories that begin as patchworks of the stuff we read and watch, when all of our characters are some iteration of our favorite literary figures and our ideas are largely reactionary does fade, but it never entirely goes away.  We develop the skills and sensitivity to be more purposeful in what we create. We gain life experiences to draw from and learn how to weave those things into our tropes and plot devices. There’s still going to be some “borrowing” because that’s the nature of fiction. I think the fanfiction naysayers are people who know, deep down, that their own work isn’t quite as “original” as they want it to be.  Fanfiction writers are generally the people who are comfortable with that and just want to tell a good story.  As an author, I think the obsession with “originality”overblown.

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Rose B. Fischer is an avid fan of foxes, Stargate: SG-1, and Star Trek.  She would rather be on the Enterprise right now. Since she can’t be a Starfleet Officer, she became a speculative fiction author whose stories feature women who defy cultural stereotypes.In her fictional worlds, gender is often fluid, sexuality exists on a spectrum, and “disability” does not define an individual.  She publishes science fiction, science fantasy, horror, and biographical essays. To find out more, visit her website or her Amazon Author page.

Blog Announcement

While I have only recently returned to active posting here this month, I am going to be traveling all of February, until early March. Due to that, the posting will continue to be limited, but I still have projects for this blog.

Next month, Rose B. Fischer’s Fangirl series will finish its run with the last two posts. There will be more news about my upcoming book Sci-Fi Women Interviews: The 2015 Collection and the eponymous monthly feature will return on the last Friday of February.

If you readers and fellow bloggers/writers have suggestions about the kind of content you would like to see on this blog, I am always happy to hear them!

Have a great weekend!

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#SciFi Women Interview: Robin Rivera and Heather Jackson

To start 2016, I am very happy to bring a twist to this monthly feature, with not only one but two guests this month! I am delighted that Robin Rivera and Heather Jackson accepted to do a joint interview. I met them via the great blog Write On Sisters (which I highly recommend if you aren’t familiar with it).

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Heather Jackson

Heather Jackson

Heather escaped her small town for the big city of Toronto where she attended Ryerson University’s Radio & Television Arts program and the Canadian Film Centre’s Prime Time Television Writing program, which led to a career penning cartoons and tween dramas that are broadcast all over the world. But recently she transferred her screenwriting skills to a new medium: video games. She wrote an episode of Bloom Digital’s dating adventure game LONGSTORY, and is currently writing a super cool educational game for a top-secret client.

Heather is also working on two YA novels: PSYCHO SMART and DEMONS DON’T DO LOVE. Neither is autobiographical. Mostly.

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Robin Rivera

Robin Rivera

Robin trained as a professional historian on the West Coast. Her studies led her to working as a museum curator, an educator, a shipwreck hunter, a curriculum developer and media consultant. After a lifetime of writing nonfiction, Robin loves the freedom of writing fiction. However, old habits die hard so she always grounds her young adult fiction in solid historical research. Her finished projects include: a novel set in an alternative vision of mid-Victorian Egypt, and a heist novel set in Italy. She is currently working on a YA Gothic retelling of the 14th century novel, The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio.

You can find Heather and Robin at their blog WriteOnSisters.com.

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NG: How were you first introduced to Science Fiction?

RIVERA and JACKSON: Both Heather and I were late arrivals to the genre. I’m a huge Sci-Fi TV addict, but both of us didn’t read these books as kids. I was a pretty hard core mystery reader in my youth, and we both favored the classics. For me the big turning point was meeting my husband; he is a huge Sci-Fi reader. I remember he would rave about books I had never heard, the Ring World series, Dune, the Stainless Steel Rat or Starship Troopers and he would want me to read these books too. He gave me my first copies of many of the big authors. He still reads more Sci-Fi than I do, and he sure trained our kids from an early age. When a new book comes into the house, there can be some massive debates over who gets to read it first. At one point last year three of us were all reading the same book (Feed by M.T. Anderson) at the same time. It was crazy! We had a list of page numbers written down because we kept losing each other’s bookmarks. Now both Heather and I read a ton of young adult Sci-Fi and we often have long discussions over books we like. Or we don’t like. Our taste is somewhat different. Heather likes her books much edgier than I do.

NG: What are your top 3 favorites for Science Fiction books, TV shows and movies?

RIVERA and JACKSON: Only three? That is cruel and unusual punishment! We’ll go with just the top picks for each so we don’t crowd the whole page.

My book pick is Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Perhaps that is an unorthodox pick, but it’s one of my favorite books of all time. It’s funny and fresh, I just love it! There are others, I’m a River World fan and I can’t pass up on anything in the steampunk genre. Heather is a dystopian fan, so The Hunger Games gets her vote. It’s pretty darn high on my list too. Also the Lunar Chronicles gets a nod from both of us.

TV shows is much harder. As I said before, I’m a huge TV fan, I live for the Sci-Fi channel. Firefly, Warehouse 13, Eureka, X-Files, Star Trek, Dr. Who, Red Dwarf, Stargate… Brain implodes into mushy glop from overload. Okay, nope, can’t pick. I have been known to binge watch all of these shows and about two dozen others, over and over again. For Heather it’s Firefly. Lets face it, it’s a great show on every level and one any writer can learn a lot by watching. Oh, and Orphan Black! Heather is an emphatic member of the clone club.

Movie pick for both of us is Blade Runner! Honestly, there is no contest, that movie just has it all. We both loved the fact that it stands alone! Sometimes sequels just end up messing things up. Blade Runner stays pristine in a bubble, at least for now. Yes, we’re glaring at you Scott and Ford. Don’t mess with our perfect Deckard!

NG: What place does Science Fiction have in your writing?

RIVERA and JACKSON: I think I’m more influenced by my background in history than I am by Science Fiction. However, Sci- Fi taught both of us a lot about writing outside the box. The way we combine facts with fiction trying to make the impossible seem plausible, is taken right from Sci-Fi style writing craft. All the best Sci-Fi makes you think events could happen the way the authors describes it. Also Sci-Fi weaves social commentary and current societal concerns into other worlds and times, and we both love to weave deeper context into our writing. We both know as writers we are products of our own experiences, what we care about on a deeply personal level is what we make our characters care about, regardless of their race, age, or imaginary environments.

NG: Can you tell us a bit more about your writing projects?

RIVERA and JACKSON: Heather and I always have several projects going at once, all it various stages. In my case I have two sci-fi projects currently in the works, a serial that’s sort of Area 51 inspired, but it’s still in first draft mode. I also have a space opera that’s still in the plotting stage. However, I did write an 80,000 word steampunk novel. That project is packed with all sort of futuristic gadgets. Plus, it has Victorian social, gender, capitalist and colonial commentary of every sort. I really channeled my inner Jules Verne on that project. Heather is currently working on two young adult novels, one horror and one paranormal. She also has several media projects in the works, including a video game and a new TV script.

NG: Which Science Fiction characters have had the greatest influence on you?

RIVERA and JACKSON: This question is so hard, Heather is bowing out! But for me growing up I think I was bit like Spock. I wanted the world to be a logical place, I just didn’t understand so many things others took for granted. At a very young age I started calling out adults for acting illogically, like punishing the whole classroom when one kid made a mistake. It took me a long time to let go of that inner lens that made me see everything as black and white. I still have a strong need for personal order. Now that I’m a mom, I can relate a lot to Beverly Crusher of Star Trek: Next Generation. I’m raising my own sons, two Ensign Crushers in training, smart, driven, independent boys. I know they need me to be a strong female role model and they also need me to be someone who drops everything at a moment’s notice to make them cookies for the school bake sale. It’s a challenge being a mom, even on a good day. I’d like to think in my next phase of life I’ll be a bit like Doctor Who. Taking on new challenges, having adventures, and being willing to risk everything to stand up for what’s right. But I’m not there yet. Maybe someday.

NG: Do you think that Science Fiction can influence writers outside of the genre?

RIVERA and JACKSON: We both know it does. It’s ingrained in our imaginations and into popular culture. People who would never consider themselves Sci-Fi fans make Dark Side jokes. We even talk about light speed travel, suspended animation, and death rays as if we have personal knowledge of these things. That’s the power of the genre.

NG: Do you believe that Science Fiction is a genre welcoming to complex female characters?

RIVERA and JACKSON: We would both like to think it’s getting better, but it’s still a mess! Look at how many films, TV shows and books don’t pass the Bechdel test, and it’s hardly a challenging standard:

The movie, show, book has to have at least two women in it,

The women talk to each other,

And those women must talk about something besides a man.

Also we both feel there is a tendency to over-sexualize all female characters, and they are too often relegated to the sidekick, love interest, or other secondary story roles. There is also an unfortunate age issue we still need to address. People want young, good-looking female Sci-Fi characters; the masses welcome a Zoe from Firefly, or a Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy, someone who stops traffic with how beautiful she is while she kicks ass. But don’t let those female characters get over forty, or put on any weight and develop some wrinkles. I think the blowback over Carrie Fisher reprising her role as Leia has shown us all how far we still need to go. It’s not a comforting thought! We all get older, yet we live in a world where 40, 50 and 60 year-old male characters are expected to hook up with a person in their late teens or early twenties. Men dating women younger than their own biological children has become Hollywood’s standard relationship. But if a 50-year-old woman does the same thing, she is perceived as emotionally damaged and the relationship is ridiculed. We both feel like the one place making some fantastic headway is in young adult fiction. The characters are still young, and often pretty, but at least they are usually the stars of their own stories. And they are sometimes mentored, parented or partnered with some fabulously strong, smart, practical female characters. We think Hunger Games is a great example of this. It gives us a lot of hope to see teen Sci-Fi stepping it up and bringing us some complicated and memorable female characters.

NG: What is Science Fiction’s responsibility in diverse and inclusive representation?

RIVERA and JACKSON: We both agree the main responsibility of a writer is first and foremost to write great stories with great characters. The problem is too many writers seem to think what makes a great story is the life experiences of a pretty limited group of people. We are both tired of writers who take the easy route and just stick in a secondary character pulled from the same old (often negative) stereotypes. That’s not helpful to anyone. We want to see all writers step up their game and write better diversity, diversity that bridges gaps and creates unforgettable characters.

NG: Do you think that Fangirls are an expression of Feminism?

RIVERA and JACKSON: Neither one of us is a huge Fangirl, but I’m a bit more of one than Heather is, however we both identify as feminists. Short answer: we think it can be. There is a sense of solidarity when any group of women share a common interest, but we don’t think the two are necessarily related. We know some fandoms are more welcoming to feminist members than others, but if a Fangirl truly loves something, we hope she sticks with it regardless of the haters. Fangirls getting involved with any community can help pave the way for less enthusiastic women to also take part. Plus, if enough Fangirls decide to boycott or support a cause they can create a powerful voice. Giving women a voice that must be recognized is potentially beneficial to all women.

NG: Do you think Science Fiction is a genre that speaks as much to children audience as adult ones?

RIVERA and JACKSON: Heather is not a mom, so she is leaving this one to me. I have no concerns for movies and TV, but as a mom I do wonder about books. So many of my son’s friends have no interest in reading and if they do read it is for an assignment and not for pleasure. Sci-Fi has a reputation for being less approachable for fledgling readers. The books are longer and the words are harder. It’s a more challenging read, and kids have so many other activities that give them more immediate gratification than reading. If the decline in reading skills continue much longer, the next generation might have very little interest in reading Sci-Fi. Or any books.

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Background by Rose B. Fischer.

Upcoming Book: #SciFi Women Interviews: The 2015 Collection

I previously mentioned it in passing, but I will release a free eBook on International Women’s Day (March 8, 2016), which will be available on Smashwords.

Sci-Fi Women Interviews: The 2015 Collection will compile all ten monthly features previously posted on my blog in a single eBook for readers’ (and interviewees’) enjoyment!

Cover reveal will happen in February.

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Background by Rose B. Fischer.

Fangirl: Doin It for Herself – A Writing Journey by Rose B. Fischer

Fangirl title

Designed by Rose B. Fischer.

I was hesitant to share my last post because I’m leery of the current climate related to intellectual property. I didn’t want to risk getting embroiled in a plagiarism controversy. I didn’t want to take a chance that someone would see “fanfiction” and dismiss Synn as a knock-off of Masters of the Universe. It isn’t one and bears little, if any resemblance to He-Man and She-Ra. It has more in common with Stargate SG-1, even though it’s a different genre. Any connection with SG-1 was purely unintentional, but it’s there because SG-1 has affected the way I think about space travel.

I don’t want connections to Masters of the Universe or other franchises to be a selling point for my work. I don’t want Synn to be lumped into a category with 50 Shades of Grey or any other fanfiction that’s been reinvented and made a ton of money in recent years.   I decided to post anyway because I think it’s important for creators to acknowledge the stories and concepts that inform their work. I blog a lot about the stories that have influenced my work. I use them as examples when I talk about writing craft or as reference points when I discuss my own fiction. So, it would have felt intellectually dishonest if I had left leaving this connection between He-Man/She-Ra out of the discussion. Overall, I think the years I spent developing Defenders of Grayskull made me a better writer. That’s more important to me than whether it was an “original” idea or not.

Anybody who reads the Synn stories for five minutes is going to see that I’m a Disney fan. If you read a little deeper, you’ll find Narnia, Star Trek, Anne McCaffrey, Star Wars, and Dune. http://rosebfischer.com/2015/07/14/fantasy-books-fox-hunting-women/You’ll probably find Stephen King, Anne Rice, and VC Andrews. I haven’t found them yet, but I haven’t written anything to-date that isn’t influenced by them in some way. It’s all there whether I intend for it to be or not. Pretending that it isn’t and saying “Oh, my work is so fresh and new…I didn’t borrow anything!” would be insulting to my audience who are fellow fans of the same genres. I want readers to feel welcome and respected in my online space.

The relationship between Synn and Defenders of Grayskull was a little more complicated, though. I created Synn from the ashes of several failed fantasy projects. Most of its early characters came from an illustrated story I tried to write in 1999. I combined those ideas with some other fantasy concepts I had laying around my head (because yes, fantasy concepts just pile up in the dusty corners of my mind), added the idea of travel between worlds, and then I needed a complex political scene that was based on constitutional monarchy but had room to include other political systems and explore the influence of humanism. I happened to have the perfect thing. I knew that I wouldn’t write Defenders, so I cannibalized parts of the worldbuilding into Synn. The MOTU cartoons only have sketchy references to politics, and I didn’t use any of the MOTU/POP characters. I do have some concepts that were probably informed by Filmation’s series. So, is Synn a fanfiction? No. Is it “based” on a fanfiction? No. Is it completely original? Well…yes, and no. Just like every other work of fiction, in its own way. But maybe a little different, too.

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Rose B. Fischer is an avid fan of foxes, Stargate: SG-1, and Star Trek.  She would rather be on the Enterprise right now. Since she can’t be a Starfleet Officer, she became a speculative fiction author whose stories feature women who defy cultural stereotypes.In her fictional worlds, gender is often fluid, sexuality exists on a spectrum, and “disability” does not define an individual.  She publishes science fiction, science fantasy, horror, and biographical essays. To find out more, visit her website or her Amazon Author page.

Next Week on the Blog

On Tuesday, Rose B. Fischer will return with a new installment of her Fangirl series.

On Friday, #SciFi Women Interviews will welcome its first 2016 guests with a twist as I will be happy to speak with Robin Rivera and Heather Jackson from Write On Sisters.

You can also expect a couple of announcements on other days.

Have a great Sunday and a good week!

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Photo Credit: Jeff Sheldon.

2015 Publishing Retrospective: Clairvoyance Chronicles – Volume One

Last November, I released my first work of fiction in English, a collection of (related) short stories: Clairvoyance Chronicles Volume One. As the title indicates, it is the first of a series (which might have 2 to 4 books depending how the story unfolds). While I plan to release more nonfiction, I will probably focus more on fiction in the upcoming years, so this is certainly not the last fiction title I’ll publish.

Working on this project gave me the opportunity to learn more about promotion, just as the whole 2015 year was a huge learning curve when it comes to indie publishing, formatting and marketing!

I also know that at this point in my writing life, I am more comfortable working with shorter formats such as short stories or novellas than actual novels. I have many stories to tell but shorter formats are better for me at this point.

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Book Cover by Jennifer A. Miller.

Book Links (Kindle and Paperback)

Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia

Goodreads page

Description

Old enemies never truly disappear. When they return, peace becomes fragile and clans are on the brink of destruction.

Were Saber-toothed Cat Neyla relives her real-life nightmares upon Keno’s reappearance. Her longtime nemesis is scheming to overthrow the supernatural society. With Keno’s followers growing each day, Fae, Weres, Shifters and others with special gifts, are at risk.

In these dark times, everyone must join ranks and keep faith in a better tomorrow.

Unfortunately, the price may be high.

Author Interviews

Book Reviews

Guest Posts