Saturday, July 9, 2011

Why I Write Sci-Fi Thrillers

I could say it's because I read Ender's Game in sixth grade. Even though I didn't want to because the cover made it look like a boy book. Even though I procrastinated and left it to the Very. Last. Minute. I read it in two days, and then I read the whole series. And the companion series. 

I loved those books so much I made everyone in my entire family read them. I turned into that person that went to family functions and thrust mass market paperbacks into relatives' hands and talked about nothing else.  I argued with my sister and a few of my cousins for years (yes literally) about which one of us could name our children Ender and Bean. (We were determined no matter whether the kids were boys or girls).

Or I could say it's because the first time I saw an episode of Battlestar Galactica, I became addicted and had to watch the entire series. Right then. I called into work sick, two days in a row!, because I was sitting in front of the television absorbed in that world.

I could say I was inspired to read more about science from watching Fringe. If Walter Bishop had been my science teacher in high school, he might have done experiments on me, but I definitely would have gotten better grades. Telekinesis, Teleportation, Pyrokinetics, Parallel Universes--it's all just so interesting.

I could even say it's because a year and a half ago, I picked up a thriller from an airport bookstore called The Breach and could literally not put it down until I got to the end.

But those would just be half-truths.

Just about everything I've ever written has been born out of some heartbreak. Dramatic fights. Terrible breakups. They all inspired characters who had to face insurmountable physical and emotional odds. Characters who had to somehow save the world and turn star-crossed love into something that didn't end in tragedy.

That against all odds triumph is why I ended up writing thrillers. (The science fiction part just seemed to insert itself naturally no matter what I tried to do.)

It's my revenge on heartbreak.

It's also why I fell so hard for Bean and Petra, Starbuck and Lee Adama, Oliva and Peter, and Travis and Paige.

Liz Norris briefly taught high school English and history before trading the San Diego beaches and sunshine for Manhattan's recent snowpocalyptic winter. She harbors dangerous addictions to guacamole, red velvet cupcakes, sushi, and Argo Tea, fortunately not all together. UNRAVELING is her first novel.


  1. I love this post SOOOOO much!!! Yes! I love that underneath the trappings of sci-fi, which can provide setting and external dramatic tension, at the bottom it's all about characters and heart and triumph. Love, love, love it.

  2. Wonderful wonderful!! Yes, it's about PEOPLE -- and a bunch of cool stuff.

  3. Ahhhh, LOVE this post, Liz. I only recently read ENDER'S GAME and I was angry afterward that no one introduced me to it sooner (clearly I needed to know your family growing up!). I also read THE BREACH last year! It was phenomenal! I've never met anyone else who has read it, which is a terrible shame because it's brilliant. I still haven't seen FRINGE...but it's on my list. :) Yay thrillers!