There are so many topics I could write about, but let’s just get the big one, the mega one, the one that’s near and dear to my heart out of the way. I’ve tried through the years to develop into a somewhat mature human being and to keep getting better at the writing craft.
None of this takes away from the fact that I am a giant, undiluted, unrepentant geek. I’m a geek in my interests, a geek in my writing, and although I may change and grow, I doubt that’s going to go away. Why bring this up at all? It intrigues me that with so many fan girls and boys of various books and series these days, writers of the speculative genre are still pushed into a far corner of the room by the more literary crowd.
This irritates me.
Granted, I get that what’s popular isn’t always good, but I feel that sometimes people heap horror, sci-fi, fantasy, urban fantasy, and all the rest as things that are for strict entertainment. And there’s nothing wrong with that; I don’t mind being entertained and there’s definitely a market for it. As a writer, though, I feel like a lot of people and critics are missing the point. There’s an opportunity with genre fiction that I’m constantly tempted by as an author. It’s not just about zombies, vampires, aliens, telepathic powers, or suddenly finding that you’re being stalked by a time-traveling cult. Sure, these are fun and intriguing, but I think sometimes people forget that speculative writers have a lot of room to work with metaphor. Comic titles like Walking Dead and Batman are about more than the fantastic set-up; they’re about how certain types of people deal with loss, with survival, with obsession. Sometimes putting these heavy emotions into a fantastic setting makes it easier for us to talk about them, to make us wonder what we would do in similar situations.
Like or loathe how vampires have been portrayed lately, they can be a great metaphor for a lot of things. They can be the ultimate predator, a version of Nietzsche’s supermen turned into a nightmare because they break all the rules on the food chain. They can represent the longing a lot of people repress (though whether the longing is sexual, romantic, or to be able to get away with lashing out, that’s up to the reader to interpret).
Look at Ray Bradbury, who put a huge amount of human emotions on Mars. Not only did he get us wondering about space, he also makes us feel for the struggles his characters experience as they get used to their situations. Look at Neil Gaiman, who has not only introduced mythology in new forms to readers who may not care otherwise, but who explores those stories and characters in ways that really get his readers thinking.
As a writer, I want people to enjoy my work and be entertained, but I also hope it sticks in their minds. I want them to think about why rock stars might be tempted into turning into demons and what it means to want something so bad you’d do anything for it. I want people to take a good look at everyone around them and wonder ‘what if…just what if they’re something else and I’m taking that for granted?’ As entertaining as genre fiction can be, I think writers of it have a unique opportunity to not only give people the chance to dream, but to also wake them up and get them thinking.
If that happens to take fairies, spaceships, elder gods, and mutant zombie vampire hybrids, well, so much the better.
Selah Janel has been blessed with a giant imagination since she was little and convinced that fairies lived in the nearby state park or vampires hid in the abandoned barns outside of town. Her appreciation for a good story was enhanced by a love of reading, the many talented storytellers that surrounded her, and a healthy curiosity for everything. A talent for warping everything she learned didn’t hurt, either. She gravitates to writing fantasy and horror, but can be convinced to pursue any genre if the idea is good enough. Often her stories feature the unknown creeping into the “real” world and she loves to find the magical in the mundane.
She has the holiday e-book Holly and Ivy released through Mocha Memoirs Press and four e-books with No Boundaries Press, including her first novel In the Red, the historical vampire story Mooner and the contemporary short The Other Man. Her work has also been included in The MacGuffin, The Realm Beyond, Stories for Children Magazine, and the upcoming Wicked East Press anthology Bedtime Stories for Girls. She likes her music to rock, her vampires lethal, her fairies to play mind games, and her princesses to hold their own.
Catch up with Selah and all her ongoing projects at the following places: