Today, I'm swapping posts with a good friend and fellow writer, Theresa Milstein. I'm very excited because we are both included in the anthology, From Stage Door Shadows.
Theresa talks about speculative fiction...here she is!
Thanks for swapping blogs with me, Len. I’m so excited to be in From Stage Door Shadows with you!
Last summer, I learned about the rules for writing a short story for the anthology From Stage Door Shadows:
1. Be inspired by a line from Elton John’s song “Tiny Dancer”
(That was easy. I chose, “Looking on she sings the songs”.)
2. The piece must be speculative fiction.
I had to look it up.
Here’s the definition on Wikipedia:
Speculative fiction is an umbrella term encompassing the more highly imaginative fiction genres, specifically including science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history.
That covers just about everything. It’s almost too broad.
I found this one on dictionary.com:
a broad literary genre encompassing any fiction with supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic elements.
As soon as I got the line for the song, the ideas began to percolate. My manuscripts normally have a magical element, but my short stories are often realistic fiction with a twist. My first idea to write about children’s beauty pageants wasn’t going to have a fantasy element. What to do now?
The reason I chose children’s beauty pageants is because they seem extreme. How the girls look and behave is extreme. I thought about women today: the fight over their bodies, the display of their bodies, and the idea of traditional roles.
Then I thought about placing the pageant in the future. What would beauty pageants look like in 2313? What status would women have in the future? Once I asked those questions, I became even more excited about my story idea.
Speculative fiction is about pushing the limits.
When I sent my story all polished, I felt good about it. But the editor, Jodi Cleghorn, who worked with me for 100 Stories for Queensland, wanted me to push the piece further—make it darker. It was the most extensive edit I’d ever done for a short story, and “My Moment” was much better for it.
After reading about half the stories, I believe that everyone pushed limits. I felt like I peeked down alleyways on dark nights and spied through windows in unsavory neighborhoods. Here and there, I found flashes of magic and glimmers of hope.
I’ve been amazed over how the lines from one song could inspire such various stories in place, time, tone, and more. It was like eating a box of Bertie Botts Every Flavor Beans.
Watch out for earwax.
Have you ever heard of speculative fiction?
Have you written speculative fiction?
Where to find From Stage Door Shadows:
On the eMergent site, the book is $19.99 and the ebook formats are $4.95.