fantasy & sci-fi / labels / Why?

“What kind of person writes a book like that?”

This is the question my mother-in-law asked about The Hunger Games. Now, she didn’t ask in a harsh judgmental way, but in a true mystified way.

My first thought was, “A person like me.”

She’s never read anything I’ve written, and I’m afraid if I ever get published and she reads my work, she will be just as baffled.

That she went to see the film surprised me. She knew nothing about the book and she doesn’t like fantastical, impossible things. She went to see what all the fuss was about, but she didn’t understand it at all. She had no reference points for the story. The story wasn’t good or bad because there wasn’t anything she could relate to.

She likes stories about things that can really happen.

When I talked about the book, she said nodded. “That helps me understand the film more.” And she liked Katniss, a strong female lead.

Dystopian novels aren’t for everyone–I’m not a huge fan of bleak futures either. But I’m always curious about why certain types of people only like “real” stories.

What does it say about individuals who love fantasy, sci-fi, magical realism, and such? Why can one person get lost in these stories, and others can’t. Others spend the whole time knowing this is impossible, not real, no way. Why do some people have a great ability to suspend belief?

I can think of the good and bad things that might say about the person. Since I love those fantastical stories, I focus on the good points…

My in-laws have no idea what I write. Should they ever read anything, well, they’re under no obligation to understand it.

10 thoughts on ““What kind of person writes a book like that?”

  1. I am the complete opposite to your mother in law – I like movies, books, about things I know can never happen. To me, that is escapism. To be able to suspend belief and realism, gives me a break from the real world.
    Having said that, I need to be able to identify with the characters, to see something of myself or others, good or bad. So, with the Hunger Games, I loved it because of the ‘unreal-ness’ of it, but loved it because of the moral questions it raises – about what you would or would not do for love, or to survive.
    Great post Marta 🙂 And I can’t wait to read what you write!

    • Thank you, fandina. Identifying with a character is what matters. If I can do that, I can follow a story anywhere. I guess I can’t identify with real people who can’t do that. It’s like they’re too distracted by special effects to pay attention to the characters? I don’t know, but won’t be expecting these kinds of people to be reading my work!

  2. It is difficult when one reality almost cancels out another. There is no harm meant. Nevertheless, harm is perpetrated as we are left doubting our own reality. Truth is, we can only be ourselves. We have different tasks. The task of an artist of whatever medium is to allow soul into life. Without it, civilisations degenerate.

    • “Left doubting our own reality.” That is a topic worth a whole conversation. I certainly don’t want to force anyone to like fantasy. Not that I could. But I’m always curious as to why certain stories appeal to some people but not to others. And does it say anything about our views on the universe?

  3. I just love a good story, whether it’s ‘reality’ based or fantasy based. I think there are certain human conditions and experiences that touch our emotions on a universal level, and it’s exciting when that happens. I kind of feel sorry for people who can’t let go enough to let their imagination take flight — not saying that’s what your inlaws are doing, but it does make you wonder why some people don’t get it.

    • Everyone is different and we’re all allowed to enjoy whatever stories we enjoy, but I do wonder why some people get hung up impossible things. I kind of feel sorry for people like that too, but I also suspect I’m being unfair. Oh well. I’ll write the stories I feel compelled to write.

  4. Susannah’s comment perfectly refects my feelings. I want to be taken somewhere I have never been before. If I don’t get it from several books in a row, I start to crave the total escape and immersion in the fantastic. I’m getting there right now. I need a good fantasy novel, stat!

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