Q: Why do you write speculative rather than realistic fiction?
A: The very first time I was ever asked this question, it was as part of a workshop during my final semester of college, posed to the entire class by our professor, in a tone of voice one usually associates with the exhausted parents of unruly teenagers. It boiled down to, “this story is good, why is it science fiction?”
The story was mine, by the way. I didn’t really take the complimentary part to heart at all. I did take the other half of it more to heart than I should have. I spent a good chunk of my graduate school years and beyond writing realistic fiction and feeling really, really defensive any time I wrote anything even a little speculative. “It’s literary!” “It’s magical realism!” “It’s outsized reality!”
Around ten years ago–right around the time I had my son, so maybe the sleep-deprivation helped lower my inhibitions–I stopped writing any realistic fiction. I started writing things because I wondered if I could–can I write steampunk? Epistolary steampunk? How about a superhero story? Sea monsters? Giant fight scenes and a homunculus? Love story complicated by time dilation? I don’t know–let’s find out!
And I realized something that is, ultimately, the answer to the question posed above. I write speculative fiction because it’s cooler, and it’s way more fun.