It is a pleasure to introduce July 2016’s guest for Sci-Fi Women Interviews: D. Wallace Peach. I met her through WordPress and/or Twitter when networking with fellow writers. I am glad she accepted the invitation to join fellow authors and Science Fiction enthusiasts in this series.
I will let her introduce herself in her own words:
I didn’t start writing until later in life once the kids had moved out and a temporary relocation for my husband’s job left me unemployed. The hubby suggested that write a book (I hadn’t written anything since college). I took him up on the offer, and that, shall we say, was the end of that.
I love writing, and have the privilege to pursue my passion full time. I’m still exploring the fantasy genre, trying out new points of view, playing with tense, creating optimistic works with light-hearted endings, and delving into the grim and gritty what-ifs of a post-apocalyptic world. Forgive me if I seem unfocused in my offering of reads. Perhaps one day, I’ll settle into something more reliable. For now, it’s simply an uncharted journey, and I hope you enjoy the adventure as much as I.
Her books are: The Sorcerer’s Garden, The Bone Wall, Sunwielder, The Melding of Aeris, The Five Elements Anthology and The Dragon Soul Saga: Myths of the Mirror, Eye of Fire’, Eye of Blind, Eye of Fire.
NG: How were you first introduced to Science Fiction?
PEACH: First of all, thank you, Natacha, for inviting me to participate in the Sci-Fi Women Interviews. It’s an honor!
My family loved camping. We had a rustic 10’ x 16’ cabin in Vermont without electricity but loaded with hundreds of books, most of them purchased used by my father and many from the local church attic where we bought them for a nickel each. He was and still is a voracious reader and loves science fiction. When we weren’t fishing, hiking, and playing board games, we were reading sci-fi.
NG: How did you start writing in this genre?
PEACH: I thought if I wrote speculative fiction I could get away without having to do any research. Ha ha. So many genres require knowledge and research, and I’m basically a lazy person. I figured with science fiction or fantasy, I could just make up what I didn’t know. Sounds good – despite being ridiculous. I learned very quickly that research is essential and unavoidable, and I really don’t mind learning things I’m interested in (though I still make a lot of stuff up).
NG: Which Science Fiction authors have been most inspiring to you?
PEACH: I’m going to go back a ways here to a couple books that opened my mind to science fiction like The Hobbit did for fantasy. The impact was so powerful that I never forgot the reads or what it felt like to turn the pages. They were the sci-fi first books I couldn’t put down.
One was Earth Abides by George R. Stewart. Written in 1949 (yes, 1949!) it’s a post-apocalyptic story that I read 45 years ago and still remember as if I read it yesterday. It had a profound impact on me – one of my favorite books of all time. It felt completely real, and I still think back to it when I contemplate life beyond the coming apocalypse.
The other is Frank Herbert’s Dune, a classic and not heavily technical. To me it lies on the edge of fantasy which is exactly where I like to write.
NG: What do you think of Science Fiction’s versatility and its ties to Fantasy?
PEACH: Science fiction has huge versatility as does fantasy. Both are speculative genres presenting characters, settings, concepts, and devices that don’t exist in our present reality. Though there are subgenres of science fiction and fantasy that are solidly entrenched in their respective genres, there is plenty of space where the line between them blurs. Dune is a perfect example of a book where elements of both genres blend perfectly.
I actually like this blurred middle ground the best when coming up with stories and consider myself a soft sci-fi and fantasy author. I’m not interested in writing about wizards, elves and dwarves, nor am I interested in writing hard sci-fi (I simply lack the knowledge). I do like using scientific concepts as a jumping off point.
My science isn’t technological, but it does explore or stretch the “what if’s” of current understanding and capabilities. For example, what if science developed the capability to graft animal parts to human bodies (not much of a stretch there)? What if a split personality was in fact two separate people sharing a single body? What if a man could go back in time and reset the course of his life? The exploration of these questions could fall into either genre.
NG: Would you say that Science Fiction emerged from stories such as folk tales and Fantasy?
PEACH: Fantasy, from what I understand, is thousands of years old where Science Fiction started with the Age of Enlightenment and the scientific revolution. It makes sense that as human knowledge expands, there will be speculative thinkers and dreamers who ask questions and imagine possibilities. With every new advancement there will be writers stretching beyond the known limits.
A favorite quote of mine is from John Dewey (1929) “Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of the imagination.” Imagination is the fuel for discovery!
NG: What are some recurring themes and patterns in your Science Fiction stories?
PEACH: Good question. I’m still playing with my stories and I like stretching myself with each book. I think there are two recurring themes/patterns. One is that humans don’t seem to be able to stop when enough is enough. We tend to push past the benefits of science into the arena of self-destruction, often for immediate gratification without thought for the future. This theme shows up in my darker work.
The other area I like to explore is the forces at work in the natural world (of which we are a part) that we don’t acknowledge because we don’t have the scientific means for measuring them. Just because something can’t be “proved” doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. We agree collectively on what constitutes “reality” but that’s almost silly. At one point, we all agreed that the sun rotated around the Earth. I think we are perceptually limited and rather primitive in our beliefs about what is and isn’t. That leaves lots of room for fun!
NG: Do you think Science Fiction is a genre welcoming to women creators and female characters?
PEACH: No and Yes. I understand that Science Fiction books written by men tend to be more popular and they win more awards, but this industry is changing rapidly. I refuse to be limited by gender stereotypes. I’ll do my part by writing the best books I can and making sure my reading includes authors from both genders. I haven’t been disappointed yet.
NG: Have any Science Fiction female characters been particularly inspiring to you?
PEACH: Not in particular, but they’re out there! Look at the great success of Collin’s The Hunger Games, Roth’s Divergent, and some older ones: Sagan’s Contact, Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, and McCaffrey’s Pern series. All but Contact are written by women too.
NG: What advice would you have for an aspiring Science Fiction writer?
PEACH: Read, read, read and fill your brain up with Science Fiction (and other books) that you love. I’m a huge fan of writer critique groups and was a member of a Sci-fi/fantasy group for years. I would never have published without the valuable feedback I received from my peers. Then write what you enjoy.
NG: Do you have future Science Fiction projects?
PEACH: My current WIP is a serial called the The Rose Shield. It’s one of those blurry-line books. By distilling a sentient and naturally occurring element in the alien world and inserting it in their skin, people are able to manipulate the emotions of others. I’m about 1/3 of the way into the project and hope to have it done in early 2017. That seems a long way off, but for a book, it’s right around the corner!
Thanks again, Natacha, for the opportunity to chat on your blog. This was great fun!
NG: Thank you for accepting to be with us today! I am certain my readers will be glad to check your books out and connect with you.