Today I am thrilled to have fellow Australian writer Lara Morgan guest blog on writing sci-fi. Lara Morgan is the author of the brand-spanking new sci-fi series The Rosie Black Chronicles, the first of which is Genesis. I'm reading it right now and it is fantastic! So good to read sci-fi with a female MC, and one that is such a rollicking adventure.
When I was a kid I wanted to be Princess Leia. Okay I wasn’t much taken by that buns-stuck-on-the-side-of-her-head hairdo, but she was a princess, she flew around in space ships and got to kiss Han Solo so it seemed like a good deal. Now things have changed a bit, for one I’d rather be Zoe from Joss Whedon’s Firefly, but I still love sci fi and space ships so when I thought about writing a YA series I had a natural inclination toward science fiction.
I suppose that, technically, The Rosie Black Chronicles is more dystopian than sci fi though. It’s set five hundred years in the future after climate change has broken borders and drowned cities and Earth is being slowly overrun by a new incurable disease that has killed Rosie’s mother, but it does also have space travel, a colony on Mars and Rosie’s main ambition is to be a spaceship pilot so if you want to call it sci fi I’m not going to argue.
Writing a book like this involves, as do most, a lot of research. I read plenty of books on climate change, space exploration, Mars, social collapse and physics and spent a ridiculous amount of time on the web going through NASA’s website, Googling Mars and the planets and occasionally getting sidetracked by Twitter and You Tube...okay maybe not so occasionally, but the point is I had to bury my head in some hard science to make sure I was getting at least some of the details right.
That said though, this book is far from hard science fiction. Writing sci fi for me is more about serving up a story that is essentially about how my characters cope in a future world rather than detailing the technical side of that world. I need to know how things work so the world feels authentic when I write about Rosie in it, but I don’t stop the story narrative to go into a long spiel on the specifications of the city’s transport system. That’s called info dumping and avoiding it is one of the unique challenges of writing genre fiction, be it fantasy, paranormal romance or science fiction. You have to be able to insert small details throughout the story that shows the reader how the world in your book differs from the norm, but do it without being obvious. You can’t, for example, have one of the characters suddenly start talking about how their communication system works in their world, it just doesn’t make sense and throws the reader out of the story. It would be like me suddenly explaining to me friend how mobile phones work. It’s just weird and people don’t do that in real life, so you can’t have your characters doing it. It’s also important in writing sci fi that you never let this great dystopian, or super advanced world, you’ve created take over from the characters. Regardless of the wonders that may be in your world, or the over arching theme you might be trying to get across, at the heart of every story is the people. Story is character, as many great writers have said, and you have to make your book about the people who inhabit your world because no matter how shiny your space ship is, no one can care as much about a hunk of metal as they can about a person.
Lara is giving away a copy of Genesis on her blog, so to be in it pop over for a visit, and view the amazing trailer here. I am green eyed with envy over this trailer.
Thanks for being my guest, Lara! The next stop on this tour is at YA Reads.
Look out for my review of The Rosie Black Chronicles: Genesis very shortly.