Please welcome our guest blogger, J. A. Beard. His new book, The Emerald City, is now out at Amazon.com. Take it away, J. A.!
I don’t believe in the paranormal or supernatural. I don’t believe in ghosts, sorcery, psychic abilities, or any magic other than the magic of compound interest. If Tinkerbell were to fly into a room with me, she’d probably be instantly struck dead by the sheer power of my disbelief. That’s me, J.A. Beard, fairy killer.
Despite all that, I love paranormal and fantasy fiction. Most of my writing centers on those genres. In fact, I actually love them more than I did when I was younger and actually believed somewhat in the supernatural. It was, ironically, also a time when my favorite genres were contemporary thrillers and hard science fiction. Although my current range of genres is extraordinary broad and includes everything from romance to historical fiction, paranormal and fantasy books are still easily my favorites. Why would a fairy killer be so into stories centered on the unreal?
It’s not, as I’ve had some people assume, because I have some strong yearning for “wonder” that’s lacking in my skeptical daily life. I spend my days involved in research science. To me, there’s nothing more wondrous than studying the beautiful complexity in nature.
My interests in science and history are key to my enjoyment of fantasy and paranormal fiction. For me, verisimilitude is an important trait in any story, perhaps the most important. The basic rules of nature and general expectations of how people would or should react in a given situation are vital to helping preserve my suspension of disbelief. Built into that for many stories, though, are certain limitations, such as the implicit agreement not to violate the laws of physics. Sure, science fiction can get away with a lot, but there are still some fundamental limits at the margin. Granted, these limitations still allow for an almost limitless number of story variations.
Once magic is introduced into the story, though, there are absolutely no limits. Anything can be part of a story. The almost limitless becomes the infinite. That’s a very appealing idea to me, both as a reader and a writer.
It even appeals to my rational and scientific sides. Every story can become a sort of psycho-social experiment. Human behavior and history are both shaped by the fundamental limitations of reality. The ways our societies are organized are based around certain expectations on what we believe is reasonably possible.
So, I love the injection of the infinite into a story. I love everything from a subtle change that changes the atmosphere of a small town to a fundamental shift in the nature of reality that changes an entire world. Every paranormal or fantasy story is a sort of thought experiment on the nature of human existence and society. I love it, even if I am a fairy killer.
J.A. Beard likes to describe himself as a restless soul married to an equally restless soul. His two children are too young yet to discuss whether or not they are restless souls, but he’s betting on it. He likes to call himself the Pie Master, yet is too cowardly to prove his skills in an actual baking competition. So, really, he’s merely a Potential Pie Master. To the best of his knowledge, he’s not killed any fairies.
He blogs at riftwatcher.blogspot.com and is on Twitter as @jabeard_rf.