Believing Impossible Things...
A good writer can convince a reader of almost anything. My daughter read all the Harry Potter books as they came out, and told me part of her was anxious about what she’d do if an owl brought her an invitation to Hogwarts, when she’d already won a place at the school of our choice. I told her we’d worry about that when it happened.
Writing – when it’s going well – is like reading a very good novel, only better. You’re immersed in the world of the book. And one of the perks of being a writer is that you can go anywhere you choose, into the past, the future, and fantasy worlds that exist only in your head. You can be friends with dragons.
My first novel, Torbrek and the Dragon Variation, has a dragon called Xantilor. When Tor first meets him, he’s out of condition, overweight and hasn’t breathed fire for years. They bond, and she trains him to be a fighting dragon. I had a lot of fun writing extracts from:
THE DRAGON KEEPER’S GUIDE: A MANUAL OF DRAGON LORE
by His Majestie’s Noted Dragon Master in Chief
Wherein he Treats of the Noble Dragon, (the Best of Creatures) its Management now made Easie; and all Its Occult-Lock’d-up Secrets Plainly laid Open, never before Discover’d; whereby this Animal of Worth, may be render’d Tractable…
My latest novel, Dreams of the Machines, is the second in my Time Rats (time travel) series. The heroine is a 2135 pleasure droid whose owner has fallen in love with her. He gives her an illegal upgrade to make her intelligent and able to learn, hoping that when Angel can think for herself, she’ll return his love. Of course, what she actually does is run away. I enjoyed writing Angel. She finds humans quite strange at first, and struggles to get to grips with humour. She also has a bit of an obsession with Terminator 2, buys herself shades and a biker jacket, and likes to quote the T-800.
It’s interesting that readers, though rightly nitpicky if they think a hero is acting out of character, will happily accept a world where time travel exists (though one reviewer did grumble that I didn’t explain how the TiTrav worked. Huh. If I knew that, I’d be far too busy travelling through time to be writing novels). I’ve written about a world where it’s possible to copy a human, complete with all her memories (Replica). In Ice Diaries my heroine struggles to survive in London under six metres of snow. In Remix, my heroine finds a rock star sleeping on her roof terrace.
It’s the job of fiction to be like real life, only better – with more interesting stuff happening, and none of the boring bits. There’s only one rule: your characters have to react as real people would to the exceptional circumstances they find themselves in. Stick to that, and readers, bless them, will accept the impossible.