“Do you take drugs to get your ideas?”
I was at a party when she asked me that. It was at the Australian Embassy in Paris, and I was playing bass with the band providing the entertainment for the evening. We were between sets and I was taking the chance to get something to drink and meet new people. The conversation started the usual way: how long have you been in Paris? What brought you here? Where were you before? And so on. When I mentioned I was working on a novel, she asked what it was about.
Right there, that was unusual. Most people don’t ask. I suppose they're afraid you might tell them.
I described the premise, and without missing a beat, she asked the question about taking drugs. Now, maybe it was because I was a musician (they all do drugs, right?), or maybe it was that the novel I was working on sounded pretty out there, or maybe it was a compliment.
A compliment? Yeah, I think I’ll go with that.
(For the record, the only drug I take for writing inspiration is caffeine.)
Emily Dickinson said, "Tell all the truth but tell it slant." She didn’t write much science fiction (maybe none, actually), but she should have. That’s what sci-fi can do as well as any genre. Science fiction takes us out of our world and lets us visit all kinds of possible and impossible worlds. Along the way, we might get a different perspective on our own.
What if we could come up with a medical procedure to make a morally perfect person? What would you do with the power to stop time? Or what if you came across the “deleted scenes” from your own life?
What if we had a device implanted that allowed us to filter all of our sensory inputs such that we experienced the world and everyone in it according to our personal preferences? What if we could project our desired self-image to the world, be as short or tall as we like, be whatever race or gender we desire, have the face and physique of our dreams… and change it all the next day as easily as changing clothes?
These are the kind of stories I like to write.
One Thing More
I was born and raised in Seattle, but I've also lived in Montana, and have had a couple of stints in Paris, France. I’m currently based in Seattle, but I take my laptop everywhere (unless there’s a pandemic going on). I’m married to an executive/powerlifter/Spartan racer/trapeze artist (Buckaroo Banzai has nothing on her), and we have two kids who are out of the house and living on opposite sides of the world.