Interview! The Creative Catholic

Catholic World Report published an interview with me here:

http://www.catholicworldreport.com/2017/06/22/the-creative-catholic-john-c-wright/

The interviewer asks about my genre, my method of writing, and the mechanics of writing.

I am asked several questions I am not qualified to answer. Instead of a humble ‘I dunno’ however, usually I give a windy response:

CWR: How much, if any, does other media—music, film, art—feed your creative process?

Wright: I am not qualified to answer this question, since, as I see it, everything a writer comes across is potentially a raw material for a story. Everything is grist for the mill. In fact, I think I will put you and your questions into my next story, if I can find a way to do it. Such is the danger of talking to an author. Do you mind if I portray you as a samurai cyborg vampire from Mars?

However, when asked about things I do know, the answer waxes poetic, perhaps too much so:

CWR: You write science fiction; why did you choose that fiction genre?

Wright: For me, it was not a choice but a foregone conclusion. From my youth up, the tales I read and the tales I was to tell were not for any other genre.

This is the reason: Science fiction and fantasy stories need all the same elements a mainstream story needs to be well-crafted—namely, plot, character, setting, style, and theme. But there is one element absent from a mainstream story which is always present in science fiction and fantasy: the world is set outside the known world.

I do not mean merely that the setting is invented: a story set in the Middle European kingdom of Ruritania, or the savage island of Rokovoko, are fictional places in the real world. One can travel from Ruritania to Paris by railway, or from Rokovoko to Boston by sail. But to go from London to the London of A.D. 802701 and see the Eloi and Morlocks beneath an impassive sphinx requires a time machine; to visit the Han-conquered America of Buck Rogers in the Twenty-Fifth Century requires a slumber in suspended animation under the influence of a radioactive gas; to visit Oz requires flight through a tornado vortex; to visit Narnia requires a wardrobe carpentered from an unearthly tree; to visit Barsoom requires one to die and come to life again. More to the point, the world reached is not our world of today, so the writer is required to speculate  about (if it is science fiction) in what ways the known laws of nature differ from ours and (if fantasy) the supernatural.

But an unearthly, extraterrestrial, or otherworldly element who enters our known world from the unknown also brings the tale into this genre, if that element admits of no explanation viable in the world we know. A story about raising the Titanic from the ocean floor is not science fiction, because she is of our world or can be explained in worldly terms; a story about Godzilla rising from the ocean floor is, because he is not.

Science fiction and fantasy, therefore, have the freedom to explore questions of man’s place in the world by seeing him against the background of worlds beyond our own. No mainstream novel is allowed to speculate so wildly.

 

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