I have the pleasure of hosting S.L. Dunn today and he has shared his thoughts about his writing.
What do you think is the strongest attraction about the genre(s) you like to write in?
Anthem's Fall has elements of both sci-fi and fantasy. It reads like a Michael Crichton novel that collides with a Marvel/DC kind of storyline. Without getting too caught up in classifications, I would say there are aspects of “low fantasy” and “high fantasy” that fuse together to create the plotline. With that in mind, it can be said that my favorite genre as a writer is anything with a bent toward the fantastical.
I love all genres, and my bookshelf is quite eclectic. My favorite writers range from John Irving to John Steinbeck and everywhere in between. But when it comes to my own work, I’m exclusive to sci-fi/fantasy, at least for now.
Empathy is at the heart of every novel, whether it's Moby Dick or The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The reader picks up the novel, envisions the scenes and the characters, and somewhere along the line has emotions aroused. Readers don’t experience a book passively, and at some point in the pages they might feel fearful, anxious, excited, edified, amused etc. That feeling can only manifest itself through empathy, regardless of a book’s genre.
What separates sci-fi and fantasy from other genres is another unique attribute on top of that empathy, and that is imagination. The willingness on the reader’s part to suspend his or her disbelief is a foundation of fantastical fiction. Of course all novels require imagination to write and read, but sci-fi and fantasy bring that imagination to its zenith. Only in sci-fi and fantasy is imagination a key component of the novel’s fabric.
The way I regard my own writing is simple. If I’m going to be making stuff up on every page, I might as well go all the way and create entire worlds. I’d rather take my chances going “all in” and push a reader’s suspension of disbelief to the max than hold back with any aspect of my storytelling. I write for a reader who is willing to leave reality at the door, and my goal is to deliver in the task of igniting his or her willing imagination.
Above a horrified New York City, genetics and ethics collide as the fallen emperor and a banished exile of the same herculean race ignite into battle over the city’s rooftops. In the streets below, a brilliant young scientist has discovered a technology that can defeat them both, yet might be more terrible than either.
Set both in modern New York City and in the technologically sophisticated yet politically savage world of Anthem, Anthem’s Fall unfurls into a plot where larger than life characters born with the prowess of gods are pitted against the shrewd brilliance of a familiar and unlikely heroine.
“Yes, Lord Vengelis!” the boy called, but suddenly froze with fear. The boy began trembling, his chest convulsing in terror. Vengelis slowly turned and looked in all directions. Hysteria was rampant; men, women, and children were running every direction, many horribly wounded. None of them were soldiers. The fire was blazing out of control, and the entire block was immersed in raging flames.
A woman standing nearby, just below a broad tilted awning, remained unscathed. Her appearance contrasted strangely with the mayhem around them. She was thin and average sized, of Royal appearance, with blonde hair and bright blue eyes. Tattered ribbons of the awning and bits of orange cinders and ash blew all about her. She was smiling at Vengelis, her teeth white and perfect. Vengelis was taken aback.
Vengelis squinted through the billowing ash and felt an eerie sense of disquiet surface within him. Her eyes were not quite right. There was a glowing property to her stare, as though her eyes were emitting a strange blue radiance. She was beautiful, but the serene way she was smiling in the midst of the madness was peculiarly horrifying.
“State your name and rank!” Vengelis called out.
The boy stifled a small cry as the woman’s smile broadened. Vengelis glared and turned his attention from her to the boy. In a corner of his mind he already knew he was speaking to one of the Felixes. She moved her unsettling gaze from Vengelis to the boy. The boy let out a terrible sob and released the soldier he had been dragging. The woman took a step closer to the child.
There was no longer any doubt in Vengelis’s mind.
The woman whirled into motion, dashing toward the boy and reaching for his throat. The boy flinched and locked his eyes shut, expecting instant death. But it did not come. He peered through his trembling eyelids after a moment passed. The woman was still reaching for his throat, though now just in front of him. Vengelis had closed the distance and grabbed her wrist with his left hand, stopping the strike in its tracks. Her fingernails were reaching out longingly, inches from the boy’s neck. The woman turned to Vengelis, her expression vacant.
“Huge . . . mistake,” Vengelis growled through gritted teeth, his knuckles white from the vice grip on her wrist. “Get out of here, kid.”
S.L. Dunn is the debut author of Anthem’s Fall, a novel he wrote amid the wanderings of his mid twenties. He has written while living intermittently in St. John USVI, Boston, Maine and Seattle. Raised on big screen superheroes and pop science fiction, he sought to create a novel that bridged a near-sci-fi thriller with a grand new fantasy. He currently resides in Seattle with his girlfriend Liz and their dog Lucy, and is hard at work completing the next book of the Anthem’s Fall series. Get in touch at www.sldunn.com.
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