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Worlds Without Limits: In Which Serena Chase Tells Why She Reads (and Write) Speculative Fiction

Serena Chase, you guys. 

This woman's reimagining of the Snow White and Rose Red fairy tale is breathtaking. I haven't yet read her recrafting of The Twelve Dancing Princesses, but, oh, I intend to. Her storyworld is captivating and...I'd love to get lost in it. She's a regular contributor to USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog, and Serena knows the power of a well-crafted romance thread. We've asked her to share--since she reads so much YA and inspirational romance--why she writes speculative fiction. Here's her answer.



I did not always love the term ‘speculative fiction.’ Before I realized the scope of what that genre label could include, I wrinkled my nose at the negative aroma it brought to mind. To me, the word ‘speculative’ implied a category of writing that not only allowed science and the philosophy of conjecture to trump story, but encouraged it. My idea of ‘speculative fiction’ was the “yawn me across the universe” sort of writing I associated with cerebral works of science fiction—not the romantic epic fantasies and fairy tales I loved. In fact, it was more in line with the cold dictionary definition of the word ‘speculative’, as found at Dictionary.com:

speculative    [spek-yuh-ley-tiv, -luh-tiv] 

adjective
1.  pertaining to, of the nature of, or characterized by speculation, contemplation, conjecture, or abstract reasoning: a speculative approach.
2.  theoretical, rather than practical: speculative conclusions.


That definition did not jive with my heart for relationship-centered stories in which good triumphs over evil, light over dark. When I wrote, I wasn’t ‘speculating’ about worlds, creatures, people groups, relationship structuring, and systems of belief . . . I was breathing them to life upon a page; a life entirely real, but unable to be proven apart from the power of imagination.

As I polished my craft, began to learn the business of publishing, and readied my first baby book to be sent out into the great big world, however, I learned that speculative fiction is not limited by the definition of one word. In fact, it is not limited by anything at all. Here is what Dictionary.com has to say about it:

speculative fiction

noun
1. a broad literary genre encompassing any fiction with supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic elements


There are no limits, no prejudices, nor any rules of our reality imposed upon what can and cannot happen in books featuring supernatural, fantastical, or futuristic elements. Though a story may metaphorically comment on the world we know, speculative fiction does not “speculate” about the otherworldly, nor does it ask a reader to approach fiction with that mindset; to do so would be to disavow the concept of suspension of disbelief—a sure poison toward the enjoyment of any novel. Instead, speculative fiction expects a reader to embrace the otherworldly; to trust it to be real and true for the length of the tale.



As with all other fiction forms, speculative fiction can also transport readers into the emotions of a place, time, and situation, giving us license and opportunity to be transformed along with the characters we meet on the journey. Even a tale mired in gloom and doom can pull our emotions in revelatory ways, forcing us to plumb the depths of our own darkness and to choose to seek—or ignore—the source of light that might expel it. When well-written from a worldview of Hope, however, speculative fiction has the potential to infuse that hope into a reader’s imagination. From there, she alone must choose to allow that hope access to her soul. For good or ill, speculative fiction can shape our perception of the world we inhabit outside the pages of a book, even if—perhaps especially if—the world within the book does not at all resemble our own.



Trends may wax and wane, but all subgenres of speculative fiction share the beautiful commonality of projecting a reality other than the one we know. In that way, speculative fiction stories achieve the immortality of life without limits. Therein is the draw of speculative fiction, explained—as is my personal motivation for writing it: a soul-deep belief in the transformative power of Hope Unlimited, as seen through the lens of imagination.

What sorts of speculative fiction do you most enjoy reading?

Has the reading of an otherworldly tale ever affected you internally, causing your hope to soar  . . . or to sour?


SERENA CHASE is the author of the Eyes of E’veria series. The Ryn (book 1), The Remedy (book 2) and The Seahorse Legacy (book 3) are available now. Book 4, The Sunken Realm will release late summer 2015. A regular contributor to USA Today’s Happy Ever After blog, Serena reviews young adult and inspirational romance, interviews authors and celebrities, and writes the occasional feature article. She lives in Iowa with her husband, two teen daughters, and a white goldendoodle named Albus (yes, after the Headmaster of Hogwarts.) Her favorite thing to read is YA fantasy—especially when it features a well-developed romance. To learn more about Serena Chase and her YA/NA Fantasy novels, visit her Amazon page and her website. You can connect with Serena Chase on Twitter (@Serena_Chase), Facebook, and Pinterest.

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Now, take a moment to answer her question. What otherworldly tale has affected you deeply, for good or for ill?