Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What If?

My sister-in-law and I were discussing science fiction and fantasy versus reality in fiction. She finds that the impossibilities or improbabilities stop the narrative flow for her so she doesn't enjoy the story. I've known quite a few people like that. My daughters prefer non-fiction inspirational material. My second son prefers westerns. Fortunately, my oldest son enjoys playing the what if game. Other wise I would feel totally isolated as their father (and my husband) is the most literal minded man on earth.

Even as a kid, I was always attracted to the fantastic and futuristic. When other kids were reading Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, I was devouring Tom Swift and Gulliver's Travels. Perhaps that was because I had enough grim reality in my life already. I know that books were my solace through lonely, difficult times. Books don't walk away or reject or make fun of the reader. They're loyal companions, always there when needed.

I used to think that all people were like me, but now I know that there are a lot of people who are uncomfortable with the uncertainty implied in what if. They cling to the concepts and places they are familiar with because the fantastic makes them feel insecure. That's okay. Fortunately in the world of books, there's something for everyone.

My brain is evidently hard-wired for the what ifs in life. Instead of assuming the most logical string of events, my mind hops out there to peer at the most far out what if. I used to fight it in my writing, but finally I conceded that was just the way I am. The book I'm currently working on opens with a small plane flying through a storm. Two possibilities--the plane crashes or it doesn't. But of course in my story, it crashes. Two possibilities--the people die or they survive. Of course they survive. Otherwise there wouldn't be a story. Now what? There my brain took a sideways hop and my characters ended up back in BC with natives throwing rocks at the shiny beast that suddenly appeared in their formerly pristine meadow.

See? That's just the way it is. In the blog I'm writing with Amarinda and Kelly, our readers think I deliberately tossed in a peeler. Not so. That was just a normal brain glitch. It could have easily been a bottle brush or a nail clip. I reached into the grab bag and pulled out a peeler.

The what if gene is both a gift and a curse. It makes it very difficult to write a straight romance. Goodness knows I've tried. Everytime I begin a perfectly normal story line, it jogs off into the brush where I need an off road vehicle to follow along. Witness the plane crash story. What should have been straight forward has gotten lost in the mists of time. Ah, well. The research should be interesting. I learn a lot of new things by playing what if...


Speaking of jogging off the beaten path... Amarinda has dragged us off into la-la land. Check it out at http://www.amarindajones.blogspot.com/ and if you missed Kelly's set up for this, hurry over to http://www.kkirch.blogspot.com/ and catch up.

I'll leave you with a small peek at Traveller's Refuge:

When Bishop woke, a very old, smallish blue man was leaning over Traveller. He had both hands spread out over him and was slowly moving them along Trav’s body as though he could see through the skin with them. The man noticed that he was awake and nodded to him. “Your friend is badly hurt,” he announced. “I’ve called for help to move him.”

“Who are you?” Bish asked in puzzlement. He had never seen anything like the strange man. His long silver hair, arranged in a multitude of small braids, each finished with a jeweled clasp, pooled around his knees as he knelt next to Trav. When he moved, the clasps clinked together like a delicate wind chime. Bishop squinted in the cave’s dim light, unwilling to accept the hint of fangs and delicately pointed ears he could swear the little man had. His face reminded Bish of a withered apple, except for those bright, twinkling green eyes. They brought to mind bird eyes. The little old man had some sort of cloth wrapped around his lower body and soft leather sandals.

“I am Dai.”

“Uh-huh. And who are you when you’re home, Die?” Bish’s brows rose in query.

“I am Dai. A healer.” He looked directly at Bishop. “Your friend is in need of a healer.” His head came up as he heard people approaching. “Good. Help has arrived and soon your friend will be more comfortable.”

Shoving the blanket away, Bish clambered to his feet. No one was going to move Trav until he talked to somebody that made more sense. Several people appeared on the pathway behind the waterfall shielding the cave, carrying bright light wands and all talking at once. When they saw Bish, the babble stopped abruptly as though cut with a knife.

The oldest man in the group tilted his head to one side, smiled widely revealing definite pointed fangs and said calmly, “Hello, Bishop. Fancy meeting you here.”

Bish knew that voice though he hadn’t heard it in many years. He sat down so suddenly he had bruises on his backside for a week. He shook his head very slowly and then just stared. “Baron.” His eyes grew round with shock as he really looked at him. Baron’s black hair, shot through with silver streaks now, was arranged like the old man’s hair. He wore the same soft skirt-like garment with matching vest and the soft sandals. And in the light of the wands they carried, his skin was indisputably blue. Almost absently, Bishop noted the gently pointed ears, pierced and decorated with multiple gold rings. After a minute, he realized that he was opening and closing his mouth like a goldfish but no sound was coming out. He tried again but it came out as a hoarse croak. “Baron.”

Merlyn came and squatted down next to him, with his arm across his shoulder. “Bish, I’m glad to see you.” He gestured for the others to come closer. “This is part of my family. Llyon. Tyger.” Two tall young men with blinding red hair arranged in tight twists on top of their heads. “Wrenna.” A tiny young woman with locks the color of glorious sunrise streaming down her back. “And two men from our village, Jonas and Mali. And you remember Jade, don’t you?” Yes, he remembered Jade but she looked quite different with her glowing auburn hair bound up in some kind of braided coronet arrangement sprinkled with tiny jewels. He had never seen her when her hair was this neat. And they were all blue…


  1. I think you go beyond a simple what if, Anny. The way I imagine it is there's this plexiglass box. Inside the box are the what ifs..options one and two. But you look in that box, see the options, peer through the glass and say, "why can't I do that..." so you take your option and throw it on the groud outside the box. Only a new plexi-glass box sprouts around it with two more options. And you keep looking through the glass to something else. It's quirky but very YOU. And I like that about you. Don't limit yourself to two options. You haven't before, no use trying it now.

  2. 'what if's' keep womankind creative and flourishing...and bloody hell I am going to have to finish writing this book and read my coming of Traveller.