16 August 2011

K Stoddard Hayes: Romance, Spec Fiction and Writing The Fisherman’s Wife

K. Stoddard Hayes, Author of "The Fisherman's Wife" in Paramourtal

I did not become a writer by accident; I have never wanted to be anything else. My grandmother, Margaret Cabell Self, published nearly 60 books about horses; my mother, Gincy Self Bucklin, is working on her fourth, and my grandfather was a Wall Street Journal reporter. So, of course, no one in my family ever told me that a writing career was a pipe dream! My first significant writing success came when I started selling magazine articles about science fiction and fantasy film and television. I published hundreds of articles, wrote one licensed book and contributed to several scholarly books. I currently make my bread and butter as a freelance commercial writer, doing web sites, newsletters and other business marketing copy, as well as taking on a very limited amount of creative editorial work.

As a teenager I discovered romance by reading Austin, the Brontes, and my mother’s collection of Georgette Heyers (I still have a whole shelf of these that I reread frequently). I’ve never had much success writing romances, though. Maybe other writers can work in whatever genre they want, but genre doesn’t seem to be a choice for me. When I was first learning the writing craft in my teens and twenties, I tried all my favorite genres, including children’s picture books, historical romance and cosy mystery. The only stories that ever came easily were always the SF and fantasy ideas. I finally accepted that spec fiction is the way my imagination bends a story, so that’s what I do. My newest short story is a space Western, “The Dodge,” appearing in the new Cliffhanger Books anthology Gods of Justice. No romance in that one, but writing it led to the creation of a new universe, where I have already found a romance or two lurking in the larger story of New Colorado.

Creating universes is one of my favorite aspects of writing fiction, and the subject of my blog, Worldbuilding Rules! In fact, the idea for “The Fisherman’s Wife” came from a post I wrote in 2009. In that post, “End the vampire pandemic!” I offered a list of supernatural beings that writers might use instead of the overused vampires, werewolves and zombies dominating pop culture. When the Paramourtal call for submissions came out soon after, I felt compelled to take up my own challenge. And there in my list was the germ of an idea: the selkie legend, familiar to anyone of Gaelic ancestry. In the legend, a fisherman steals the skin of a seal woman so she has to stay in human form and marry him. After years of marriage, she or one of her children finds the hidden skin, and she puts it on and leaves her family to return to the sea.

I thought my story should have a better ending than the legend, though. What if the husband and wife could find a way to stay together after all? Falling in love seems to me relatively easy compared to staying in love, especially years down the road when life is pounding your relationship with many fists. That staying-in-love process is what “The Fisherman’s Wife” is really about.

I was delighted to have the story accepted in Paramourtal, but the best outcome was that it led to my current relationship with Cliffhanger Books. When editor Evelyn Welle had to move on, publisher Kevin Hosey invited me to step in as Project Editor, so I’ll have the privilege of being an editor on Paramourtal 2. I hope some of you reading this will soon come across my desk.

You can learn more about K. Stoddard Hayes at  http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/438895.K_Stoddard_Hayes

Please come back tomorrow and meet M. C. DeMarco

No comments: