What If By TW Fendley
One of the most common questions people ask writers–especially “speculative fiction” authors–is “Where do you get your ideas?” Maybe it has something to do with my personality type, but I’ve never been one to accept what others seem to believe at face-value. I’m forever wondering “what if” something else happened or is true.
It’s gotten me into trouble, even among other science fiction writers, but occasionally I’ve been vindicated. For example, while I was at the six-week Clarion Writers’ Workshop for science fiction and fantasy in 1997, I wrote the first draft of a story about longevity that questioned what it means to be human. I thought, “what if” our quest for immortality brings out hidden parts of ourselves, maybe even Neanderthal ancestry? Many of the other participants were offended that I would consider such nonsense “science” fiction since everyone knew humans were not descended from Neanderthals. Since that time, advances in genetics have validated a “scientific” basis for Neanderthal traits portrayed in “The Fourth Treatment“ (free on my website).
I embarked on a similar “what if” quest with my latest book, a not-yet-published Young Adult contemporary fantasy called The Labyrinth of Time. In 2008, I went on a dream vacation to Peru, which included the tour of a tiny museum in Ica. There I learned about the Stones of Ica–river rocks that portray an alternative view of history where men lived in the time of dinosaurs. The museum director said they viewed the 11,000+ stones as a library with hidden messages. My story evolved from asking “what if” that were true and a couple of teenagers could access those messages? Although Wikipedia “experts” are sure the Stones of Ica are a hoax, I think the jury’s still out about their authenticity and greatly enjoyed this You Tube video.
In my debut historical fantasy novel, Zero Time, I also took some “what if” liberties. I became fascinated with Andean and Mesoamerican history while I was researching story ideas at Clarion. The similarities of their calendric and belief systems made me wonder “what if” they originated from the same source. My answer was to introduce advanced culture throughout Peru and the Maya world by having a group of sixteen travelers from the Pleiades arrive in the same general geographic area, but at times separated by about six thousand years.
I think there’s value in stretching our imaginations and asking questions about “reality.” Those were the stories from history and science that always intrigued me: “What if” the earth wasn’t flat? “What if” the story about the Trojan Horse was real? “What if” men could fly or go to the moon or live in an underwater boat?
Whether you’re a writer or a reader, a scientist or a historian, I encourage you to celebrate your curiosity and suspend your disbelief.
Thanks, Vonnie, for having me as your guest!”
And for her ongoing exploration of “what if” time is an illusion and we are more than our physical bodies, check out her Associative Remote Viewing website.
Thanks again to TW Fendley for her guest post. Watch Whimsical Words for more guests, blogs from me, and Readers & Writers Recipes. Have an inquisitive day! – Vonnie