Because Star Wars, Of Course

This post first appeared November 1st on the blog Martha Reynolds Writes. Martha, a fellow ARIA member, has been generous enough to feature one Rhode Island author per day during the month of November. For those of you unfamiliar with the significance of November (aside from Veteran's Day and Thanksgiving), it's alsoNaNoWriMo month. In crazy author speak, that's National Write a Novel Month. Yes, we endeavor to write 50k words in 30 days! It's a challenge for sure, and most of the madness sliding off the keyboard and onto the page must be heavily edited during the month of December and beyond. But it's an opportunity to get something down, construct the bones of a story, and get back into solid writing habits that may have fallen off during the summer months. I am furiously working on the sequel to HORIZON as we speak. So, in honor of NaNoWriMo, and in anticipation of HORIZON's release on December 1st, I've shared a little about why my first series of books is science fiction and why I enjoy writing in that genre so much...

“Why do you write science fiction?” I’ve been asked that question more times than I can count. My quick and dirty answer is, “Because Star Wars, of course!” And there’s more than a little truth to this. I saw the movie when I was seven, at a time when special effects were, well special, and a story like this one had never been seen on the big screen. Spaceships, aliens, evil villains, reluctant heroes, and a bad-ass princess - everything a girl could ask for!

I was obsessed. Every night I fell asleep to Jon Williams’ music playing on my record player (I still feel warm and fuzzy when I hear that theme song). Model x-wing fighters hung from my bedroom ceiling, the Millennium Falcon I built with my dad had a light-up cockpit, my Empire Strikes Back lunchbox still had its thermos, and my Princess Leia action figure was the one with the real buns (you know – fake hair instead of plastic, and you could never fix it after you’d messed with it). When I attended my first ComicCon many years later, I realized I should have saved those toys. My collection would have rivaled any I’ve seen.

When your work touches the collective consciousness of millions of people, then you are a true artist, a masterful storyteller. In my humble opinion, George Lucas told one of the most epic stories of all time. So, is Star Wars the only reason I write sci-fi? Of course not. But, did it awaken the storyteller in me? Absolutely.

My works-in-progress are varied and span across genres. Likewise, my taste in reading is eclectic and my bookshelves diverse. I belong to two book clubs, write a parenting blog, and contribute to a book review blog. But sci-fi is like the default setting for my imagination. It’s where I go when I want to be inspired; to play with possibilities; to ask what if, and then create brand new worlds where I can explore the answers. For me, the sci-fi genre is also a place to consider serious, meaningful issues in a different context, slightly removed from the real world.

At a writing conference I attended, one of the speakers suggested that, through our work, we artist types like to contend with themes that are important to us. I know what kinds of questions I like my characters to struggle with: What does a hero look like? Who stands and fights, and who turns away? What decisions do we make, large and small, that come to define us when it matters? What is redemption and who finds it? I want to encounter these questions as a reader and a writer. During a most impressionable time in my life, Star Wars set the bar for the archetypal battle between good and evil, and I’ve been thinking about it ever since.

People have regrets in life. Besides giving away my Star Wars stuff, here’s one of mine: My husband and I were invited to a fundraiser at the Boston Museum of Science several years ago. Wolfgang Puck prepared the meal, Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) served as the evening’s auctioneer, guests enjoyed a private tour of the museum’s visiting Star Wars exhibit, and we were to have dinner with none other than George Lucas himself. It was expensive. My husband said we should do it (Editor’s comment: husband adores wife – he had my vote). I said no. We didn’t go. My regret is that I didn’t get to tell George Lucas how much he inspired a little girl with a big imagination.