Guest Blogger: Carrie Vaughn
The winner of Carrie's book is: BoxingKing! Congrats to you. Send me your snail mail info and I'll pass it along. Thanks to everyone who participated.
First off, thanks to Lynda for letting me blather at you today. Second, my next two books, Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand and Kitty Raises Hell, will be out in February and March 2009. But I’m going to spend today talking about ideas.
Vampires, lycanthropes, psychics, mages, necromancers – no one will argue that these are the stars of paranormal fiction. But I have a confession: I’m always looking for something new and different. Off the beaten paranormal path. A) I like writing different, and B) I think readers, while remaining loyal to the genre’s stars, are also looking for new and different takes on the topic.
The cool thing? As I writer, I don’t have to look very far to find interesting examples of magic and monsters. The world’s full of ideas. I’m not even talking about obscure and interesting folklore, like Navajo skinwalkers, which according to the stories aren’t were-beasts at all but magicians who have the power to take on the shape of any animal by wearing the skin of that animal. How cool is that?
But I’m talking about paranormal ideas right here in our modern technological life:
Modern ritual. A couple of years ago I served on the jury for a DUI trial. At the start, the judge swore us in, and I felt the power of that vow. The courtroom became a sacred space in that moment, and those of us on the jury understood our power. Now, what if that power was literal and not just symbolic? What if there really were spells that could make every witness tell the truth, and give the jury supernatural wisdom and sound judgment? What would that do to the legal system?
Gremlins. These are a relatively recent invention. They became the scapegoat for when things went wrong on aircraft, especially during World War II. They’ve made their way into lots of technology since then – anyone who’s had a computer crash for no apparent reason has probably wondered if there wasn’t something supernatural going on.
Early in the twentieth century, Harry Houdini made it his mission to debunk fake mediums and psychics. At the same time, when he encountered psychics who really believed they were using otherworldly powers to help people, rather than using stage tricks to bilk people, he left them alone. Because he wanted to believe. What if he was right? The first modern paranormal detective, maybe?
Even astronauts aren’t immune to mysterious phenomena. On his 1962 Mercury space flight, John Glenn reported seeing “fireflies,” tiny lights streaming past the window of his capsule. Later Mercury missions concluded that this was caused by ice crystals breaking loose from the capsule. But some hopefuls still point to this as possible evidence of mysterious extraterrestrial influence. Personally, I quite like the idea of fairies in space.
Fiction has the amazing ability to make these ideas real, to make some of these metaphors explicit. That’s the great “what if?” What if all this were real? That’s where paranormal fiction starts. Fortunately for the fans, the answers to that question are just about endless.