06-18 Sarah Raplee – WHY PSYCHIC AGENTS?

Friday, July 17, 2015

Why SFR? Finding My Genre #scifi #romance

Hi, I'm Pippa Jay, author of scifi and the supernatural with a romantic soul. And I'm going to tell you a secret. Shh! Don't tell everyone, but I started writing romance by mistake...

It's true! At no point did I sit down and decide to write romance. Nope. I've been writing for as long as I can remember, and what I've written has changed and evolved over the years. First I wrote pony and adventure books along the lines of Enid Blyton, when I was of an age to read them. Then I started writing fantasy, having moved onto books by JRR Tolkien, Terry Brooks and David Eddings.

Then one Christmas I saw a film called Star Wars and developed my first crush on a certain Tatooine farm-boy called Luke Skywalker. After that I wrote scifi, and even after a fifteen year break around going to work, getting married and having a family, scifi is what I came back to when I once more dived into writing.

So when I completed my second ever novel in 2009 (my first was actually a Doctor Who novel, never published) and looked into the idea of trying to get it published, I shopped it to agents as science fiction. The fact that it kind of had a man and a woman falling for each other as part of the story didn't figure significantly in my mind, or my query. After years of reading Anne McCaffrey, Doctor Who books, Robert Heinlein etc, the relationship between the two central characters wasn't relevant to the genre. I didn't read romance books, so why would I write one?!

It wasn't until an author friend took a look over my manuscript and smacked me round the head with a 'you do realize this is a romance, don't you?'.

How could I have written a romance? I don't even read them...

At this late stage, it occurred to me that I'd really been reading science fiction romance for most of my life, from teenage upward. I just hadn't recognized it as that, nor had it been labelled as that. The books had all been shelved in the science fiction and fantasy category. I wasn't even sure that science fiction romance was a genre. It wasn't until I met Laurie A Green and joined the Science Fiction Romance Brigade that I realized it was a genre, albeit a small, niche, as yet unknown one.

So, with this new and amazing revelation in hand, I switched to digital first small presses in the US for my submissions, and immediately got the offer of my first contract. I was going to be published! And in a genre I hadn't even known existed! Of course, it took a LOT of work by my editor to get that first SFR into shape (for all that it was a romance, it wasn't a great one - I did say I wasn't a romance reader, didn't I? I learned!), but it taught me a huge amount about my writing (especially my faults), and my genre. To this day, my favourite thing to read and to write is science fiction romance.

Why? It combines everything I love about science fiction - world building, cool tech, aliens, other planets, spaceships!! - with the emotional impact that often comes with romance - friends to lovers, enemy to lovers, forbidden love, Mars need women (or Venus needs men - I'm all for equality!), etc. To me, I get the best of both worlds. And while I might still lean toward the SF rather than the R, and I've written both straight scifi and other speculative romance, SFR is where I want to be.

Want to chat? Find me on Twitter as @pippajaygreen or visit me at my website.


Judith Ashley said...

Love your journey, Pippa! So glad you found your niche and readers have the experience of joining you in your worlds.

Sarah Raplee said...

Great post, Pippa! Love your SFR stories! I had an epiphany when a writing instructor told me I was writing was black comedy. Totally unexpected, but I do have elements of that in my romances. Who knew?

Diana McCollum said...

Thanks for sharing your journey, Pipa!

Pippa Jay said...

Thank you!