Defining Femme

September 8, 2014 at 2:27 pm

DeliaMy guest blogger today is Delia Strange. Delia was born in Auckland, New Zealand but now lives in Brisbane. She’d always been a reader, but when she was around ten she made a friend who loved to write stories. Once she started writing she didn’t stop.

In February 2014 she began an indie-publishing project for her science fantasy, Femme, which she wrote during National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). It was published in May this year. She is giving away a digital copy of Femme. Leave a comment to go into the draw to win!

My debut novel Femme came out of nowhere. That’s not to say it was uncorked from a genie’s bottle one day, given a wish or three, but there were other stories in front of it, other books. I had a young adult fantasy novel half written and fully outlined titled 13th Soul, I had a half-written horror mystery under the working title Rocking Chair and I was polishing a completed four book series of vampire books—Infusco—that I’d co-written, in the middle of which Femme was conceived and written. So yes, my science fantasy romance was an unexpected tale in an unexpected genre and not something I’d thought I would emerge with. My betting money was on the vampires.

Even though the novel came out of nowhere, the world of Femme didn’t. I’d invented it twenty years ago (without exaggeration), for a fantasy series called Wanderer of Worlds. I pulled my best friend Linda into the deepest place of my heart and entrusted her to share my love of writing. At the time she was a voracious reader with an expansive vocabulary and immaculate communication skills. Now she brings a level of sophistication to the work we create that I don’t believe I could accomplish on my own. She’s warm and lovely and easy to work with and talk to. After explaining the concept to her, she was hooked. We began our first steps into a fictional series that became a place we would continually revisit over the next twenty years.

During that time I added to the world of Femme but the original ambience and structure of the world remains. It is a technologically and scientifically advanced world, one that claims to exercise true socialism whilst at the same time adopting a culture of slavery—a setup filled with contradiction. There is strict immigration into a world that exercises a delicate political balance and I won’t give away too many of its secrets, because there are discoveries to be made for the reader who wishes to delve into it.

Surprisingly, the tone of the story is lightly written for a world that could be (and is) extremely dark. There is an undercurrent that I chose not to explore because the perception of a world depends on the visitor and my Femmecharacter wanted it to be utopian. We usually see what we want to see and Kaley Blackburn, my protagonist, was already in love with the idea of Femme before she visited.

Femme is a soft-science or science fantasy novel. I implied how certain machinations worked but didn’t explain them. I liken this to Star Trek and the lack of explanation as to how they ‘beam up’, experience ‘holodeck’ and their interesting ‘stardate diary’ times. Since there is ongoing debate as to whether or not Star Trek is hard sci-fi or science fantasy, let me point you to Wikipedia’s definition of science fantasy instead:

‘As a combination of [science fiction and fantasy], science fantasy gives a scientific veneer of realism to things that simply could not happen in the real world under any circumstances. Where science fiction does not permit the existence of fantasy or supernatural elements, science fantasy explicitly relies upon them.’

I have fantastical elements in my novel so I can comfortably label it science-fantasy. There is a secondary plot (or primary plot, depending on what your interest is) of romance.

I’ve been interested to see that my novel has had the feminist label applied to it by readers on the Goodreads website who shelved it under the feminism tag. (Note that’s only by those who indicated they wanted to read it rather than having read it). It seems they’ve arrived at this conclusion due to the title of the book and the concept of a world dominated by the feminine gender. I’m not surprised the assumption is there; I was aware of the obvious deduction. However, when a reader enters the world of Femme anticipating a feminist declaration, agenda or perspective they will discover the novel is just a story about first impressions.

And that’s something everybody can relate to.

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