Friday, July 8, 2011

Why I Write About the End of the World

I've always loved speculative fiction. For long time, my favorite flavor was fantasy.
Camelot. Hogwarts. Middle Earth. The Seven Kingdoms. Show me a world where people live and die for love, honor, a ring, or a throne, and I'm there. I really did go there. For more years than I care to admit, my own writing took me to places that were just a little too close to those listed above.
This continued until, one fine rainy day in February of 2009, a very smart and honest person brought to my attention that my manuscript wasn't distinctive enough to sell in the current marketplace. I scrapped years of work that day. For a few months afterward, I beat my head against the wall because I wasn't writing and I really wanted to write. But I was determined to work on ideas that sprang from my mind and heart. Eventually, I settled down and did a lot of thinking and scribbling and starting at walls. I analyzed the specific aspects that I enjoy in stories and came up with a list. I love the heroic journey, not just within the fantasy genre. Setting is big for me. Romance is a plus. And gritty is good. I also discovered that the books that resonate with me most ask that What if question that's at the root of great science fiction. It all started pointing in one direction...
In order for me to blend my most valued elements into something I could call my own, I had to end the world and start it again. It was my way of wiping off all the fictional thumbprints of past stories--loved stories--and starting fresh. Now, you wise writers know that's impossible, right? What's the saying? There are no new stories? Yes, I agree. Every story holds echoes of other great stories, or characters, or places. My point is only that by looking at a new world, one born from a cataclysmic event, I gave myself permission to write something that came as much from me as possible. It was my way of breaking free.
I'd like to share one other reason I write post-apocalyptic fiction. People tend to think of these stories as dismal and hopeless. No one thinks "Party!" when the word Apocalypse comes up. If you do, I'm free December 21, 2012. Send me an e-vite. Kidding. I digress. My point is that I personally find post-apocalyptic works uplifting. They're often about perseverance, reinvention, and triumph. I like those things. And that's why I write about THE END.


  1. Wonderful, Veronica. Thank you for sharing this! I, too, think post-apocalyptic stories have the potential to be incredibly uplifting!

  2. I am really drawn to stories about survival - and there's nothing more extreme than surviving the end of the world. If characters can do that, then I should be able to face my own challenges easily. :)

  3. Jodi & Lenore - thanks. I knew you two would get it. Fist bump.

  4. Oh my God, you had me at the first line!

  5. Thanks, Elizabeth! Loved your post : )

  6. Love this. Hero journeys + romance + gritty = AWESOME.