Monday, May 11, 2020

How writers find inspiration in today's harsh reality - by Vijaya Schartz

The most popular stories are written to entertain, by authors concerned about the issues of their day. No matter what we write, the questions in our minds have a way of popping up into our work, and like good little problem solvers, our brains imagine possible solutions. 


The best stories often take inspiration from legends and myths and ancient history, which are part of our cultural background and define the way we think. Many great storytellers throughout history tried to illuminate the problems of their day through such tales, from Homer (Odysseus), to Shakespeare, to Victor Hugo (Les Miserables), to Jules Vernes, Hemingway, Faulkner, and closer to us, Glen A. Larson (Battlestar Galactica), Gene Roddenberry (Star Trek), J.K. Rowling (Harry Potter), George Lucas (Indiana Jones, Star Wars), James Cameron (Avatar)… the list goes on.

But even in a very elaborate and colorful fictional world, created by a talented storyteller, what sticks inside our minds are the people involved in the story… their struggles, their mistakes, their strengths, their resilience, their determination… and their weaknesses. We can relate to them. We wonder what we would do in similar circumstances. We wonder whether we would have the courage to do the right thing… if we could figure out what the right thing is.

Whether it’s good vs evil, or the dangers of totalitarian empires, or whether the machines will one day take over our lives, these hypothetical stories have roots in what happened before or what might happen if we are not vigilant. I like being entertained with a tale that makes me wonder how we can improve as individuals and as a society. Fiction allows the writer to tackle hypothetical situations in a neutral setting, without ruffling too many political or religious feathers. It gives us the perfect stage for freedom of expression, philosophy and satire.

I predict that in the years to come, pandemics may become a sci-fi sub-genre. It will depict heroic health workers, overwhelmed hospital ships, suffering, tragic death tolls in senior care sick bays, disorganization, catastrophic mistakes, selfishness, greed, corruption, as well as self-sacrifice, and unimaginable acts of kindness… and that will become a classic theme for many stories to come, because this generation of authors will have lived through it… and so will their readers. 

Like World War II or 9-11, this pandemic experience will become part of the collective memory, part of the recorded archives of our generation… part of the experience of the modern human race.

But unlike today’s grim reality, popular sci-fi can offer a safe escape, where the sacrifices are not in vain, the heroes are rewarded in the end, and the villains get their comeuppance.

Happy Reading.

Vijaya Schartz, author
Strong Heroines, Brave Heroes

Byzantium Space Station series
Standalone story

When bounty hunter Akira Karyudo accepted her assignment, something didn't add up. Why would the Galactic Trade Alliance want a kidnapped orphan dead or alive?

She will get to the truth once she finds the boy, and the no good SOB who snatched him from a psychiatric hospital. With her cheetah, Freckles, a genetically enhanced feline retriever, Akira sets out to flush them out of the bowels of the Byzantium space station. But when she finds her fugitives, the kidnapper is not what she expects.

Kazmo, a decorated Resistance fighter, stole his nephew from the authorities, who performed painful experiments on the boy. Stuck on Byzantium, he protects the child, but how can he shield him from the horribly dangerous conditions in the lawless sublevels of the space station?

Akira faces the worst moral dilemma of her career. Law or justice, duty or love. She can't have it both ways.

"Wow! If readers want to see and feel and believe they are in deep space, then "Akira's Choice" is the perfect choice! With a touch of romance, the vivid descriptions and beautifully developed characters masterfully presented by Schartz create a virtual world that invite the reader not merely to observe, but to walk amongst them and participate... This is a delicate art, and Schartz wields her weapons with precision and skill. Banzai!" 5 stars - exceptional - recommended read - Ind'tale Magazine

"A captivating story with interesting, appealing characters. Being a cat lover, I found the relationship, with its psychic element, between Freckles and Shane absolutely captivating. As always, Ms. Schartz’s solid plot and crisply-written prose incorporates a good blend of action and intrigue... This story can easily stand alone... but I believe you’ll enjoy this exciting Sci-Fi series much more if you start reading it from the beginning... a must read for all fans of Sci-Fi romance. Go pick them up and settle into your favorite armchair for some entertaining reading. 4.5 stars - Manic Readers

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