Not a huge long post today, just a light snack for thought. I accidentally ran across part of a really old post on boingboing about the author Kathy Reichs. If you aren’t familiar with her mystery novels, I’m sure you’ve heard of the popular TV drama “Bones” that is based on her novels. Below are a few of the questions and her answers.
You work on crime victims. Do you think about them a lot?
You have to remain objective, of course. My colleague Clyde Snow has said, “If you have to cry, you cry at night at home. While you’re doing your job, you do your job.” The cases that stay in your mind are the ones that haven’t been resolved…
When did you start writing fiction?
In the mid-1990s, when I had a serial murder case. It was before this massive interest in forensics. The time seemed right to combine murder mystery and forensics with a strong female character. I took the approach to write about what I know. I base my books only loosely on real cases. The one that triggered Bones to Ashes was a child skeleton found on the Quebec-New Brunswick border—a child about 5 or 6 years old who has never been identified.
What do your science colleagues think of your fiction?
You’re not supposed to be writing fiction. If you do it in the English department, you’re a hero. If you do it in the science department, you’re a little suspect.
It is that last question that has me thinking. What do your co-workers think of your fiction writing? I had to think long and hard about that question. Why? Because I find myself censoring myself in the office. Working in a highly-charged political and policy environment, it seems incongruous to dicuss something as “fantastical” as science fiction or fantasy. There’s that concern that you won’t be seen as professional, or that you’re a geek or nerd, or just “not with the rest of the team.”
I have heard some people choose not to bring up their writing fiction because the very next question is, “Oh? What have you written?” With the unspoken expectation that the book absolutely must be in the local bookstore or on the New York Times list otherwise it just doesn’t count. Wait? You haven’t finished it yet? Nevermind. You’re with a small press? Nevermind. You’re going to “indie” publish? Definitely nevermind.
Okay, I know there are positive and supportive co-workers and colleagues who are really excited about speculative fiction. It isn’t all gloom and doom, science and secrecy, but lets put it to the test. I want to see some proof. So let’s just put the question out there on the Internet (actually, it’s more 2 questions):
1. Do you mention that you write speculative fiction in your workplace or do you censor yourself?
2. If you do mention that you write fiction, what do your co-workers think of that fact?
Just post your answers in the comments. Inquiring minds want to know.
And for those of you who are interested, you can find Kathy Reich’s full Smithsonian interview here: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/10024986.html