Recently I was at a writing course and one of my fellow students told a sad tale of how she loved writing and had chosen to do a Creative Writing degree only to find that her tutors were rejecting her work simply because it was Speculative Fiction and they preferred Literary Fiction. She was seriously losing her confidence and her passion. As a teacher I found this devastating that teachers, tutors, lecturers, professors could have such a negative effect on someone’s hopes and dreams. What was worse, the person who had traumatised this girl was actually an ex collegue of mine. The horror, the horror. I in part felt personally responsible, because it wasn’t just some random person demeaning the genre but someone I had quite enjoyed having cups of tea with. And so I decided that I could not sit idly by. I decided that in personally must take action. With this motivation I decided to start the Literary Refugee group on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/556083947785347/) and I roped my friend Cassandra Page in with me. I had met her at A Touch of Magic by Kate Forsyth at the New South Wales Writers’ Centre. This group is to be a place where you can proudly declare that you want to write about wizards and or aliens. You can say you don’t just appreciate fairy tales but you love them, you can say magic happens, you can say the future is the best setting. Heck you can say and do whatever you like and I hope you find solace with like-minded people. Speculative Fiction writers, you are loved, you are adored, I am you. You have a home! I hope you join me.
So, here’s my pitch. Have you suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous literary bigotry? Have you, like Terry Pratchett discovered that stories of imagination tend to upset those without one? Are you fleeing literary persecution from dusty old academics (some in young bodies) who think Speculative Fiction is best left in a cupboard, locked up and unexplored? Then take refuge here, a place that appreciates and upholds Tolkien’s three gifts of escapism, consolation and recovery. Where you can proudly declare that you want to write about a magical talking horse, or a skink like alien that lives in a sulphur rich environment and be supported, encouraged and celebrated. As Tina Fey says, I don’t care if you don’t like me, I’ll start my own group, isolation is what created the X-Men… or something like that. It is time to get your Speculative Fiction on! Join Literary Refugees at https://www.facebook.com/groups/556083947785347/
For those wondering what course was I at, it was History, Mystery and Magic, run by Kate Forsyth at the Australian Writers’ Centre. She’s an unbelievable teacher as well as having published over 25 books. I personally recommend her courses to anyone.