With the approaching re-release of my fantasy novelette “Tools of the Trade” and later publication of the sequel novel Suntosun Circus from AdeCiro Publications, I revisited thoughts on story, on writing.
So take this as explorations interwoven on itself like knotwork. Or ruminations of a mind rabbiting down twisty bunny trails. Hippity-hop down lagomorph lane.
Or take this as a confession.
I’ve long held the belief all writing—fiction as well as nonfiction—is autobiography.
It’s easy to spot in nonfiction. These events happened in my life. Let’s say, though, that it’s the history of someone else. That’s biography, right? Technically in one sense, yes. In another sense, it’s autobiography of an interest. Ditto for nonfiction about some other thing. My interest drives it. Ergo, autobiography.
Fiction, though—that’s made up. Fabrication. Most of my writing is speculative: science fiction, fantasy, and sub-genres under that wide categorical umbrella.
My characters and stories would not exist without me. A damaged drifter wouldn’t find his missing son. An odd young man wouldn’t fight botanical vampires. An elf in space couldn’t save her beloved’s life, and another wouldn’t cause catastrophic tragedy in his dying madness. A circus of covert defenders wouldn’t battle demons threatening our world.
These story worlds have touchstones within my life. Each is built on places I’ve experienced, however tenuous the construction material may seem. A moment’s focus calls their fullness to my mind as sharply as the taste and smell of my breakfast, the colors of last evening’s sunset, the texture of my dog’s fur.
Hallya’s cooling world is every late autumn I’ve known extended across millennia. A trip to the Grand Canyon produced the labyrinthine canyons of the Kahall, and the grasslands of Kamanthia grew from the prairies of Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota. My years as a machinist informed details of my spaceships. The first incarnation of Rhapsody, Tuscan Red, Mind the Trees, and more was the nameless little boat I rented once to sail on the Pacific Ocean.
More importantly, what characters feel echoes something I’ve felt, reflects some facet of me. Transparent or masked, exaggerated or subdued, the source is genuine. I may acknowledge a few, but I rarely connect the echo/reflection to the facet for anyone else. Even I’m not always sure of the exact connections. Some are sharp and vivid, but many shimmer at the outermost borders of memory.
Facts underlying the fabrications are no easier to discern than how I make associations, what synapses fire in inspiration. For purposes of my stories, it’s not vital to know where the realities are.
Fiction is the tales of worlds existing between a pair of ears. Fabrications, yes, but no less true. It’s autobiography of the psyche.