Fabian on Faith, Family and Writing
Tell us about yourself and your writing.
I've been seriously
writing since college, with a few fits and starts, since college, when a short story I wrote for a SF literature course got
the comment, "This would make an interesting novel." The story is now the Miscria
Trilogy, which I'm shopping around to publishers.
I've done it all from news writing to essays to fiction, always part-time as my priorities have been first a "real
job" as an Air Force Officer, then a real job as a mom. I have three craft books
out from EcceHomo Press to support their boys' and girls' clubs. I've also had
two religious anthologies published: Leaps
of Faith, an anthology of Christian SF (now out of print) and Infinite Space, Infinite
God out by Twilight Times Books.
As you can tell, my Catholic faith is integral in my writing. Many of
my characters have some kind of religious inclination, and it sometimes creeps into the themes, too. I stay away from preaching, however; just like I try to "spread the Word by example," so do my characters.
Lately, I've turned
my attention toward fiction. I've found a lot of satisfaction in creating worlds
and characters and seeing where they lead me. And they definitely lead me.
As the kids have gotten older, I've found more time--and interestingly, more need--to devote myself to writing. I've also found a new network of writing friends and opportunities. I was a panelist for the MuseOnline Conference and will be again in October. I'm moderator of the CatholicWritersOnline group on Yahoo! and President of the Catholic Writers' Guild. I'm also a member of several writers' groups and chats.
One of my favorite
writing pastimes, however, is collaborating with my husband, Rob. I fell in love
with him for his terrific (punific) humor, his intellect, and his way of seeing the big picture so clearly while still keeping
track of details. Every time we collaborate--whether it's on the creation of
a child or of a book--it's a romantic venture.
What do you enjoy reading?
Science fiction and fantasy, without a doubt. Historical fiction. Mystery. Comedy, like Dave Barry and
Erma Bombeck. I’ve tried exploring other genres, spent a whole summer reading
stuff from the NYT best seller list--but I can’t get into them. If I’m
going to read about someone’s angst, there’s got to be a dragon or a spaceship.
Even so, I don’t care for stories that don’t have strong characters.
Novels that spend too much time on the plot or on deep descriptions of the setting turn me off. So does sloppy writing. Rob, my husband and editing partner,
has a higher tolerance when the plot is good, but not me. Time’s too short.
What about religious fiction?
A couple of fictionalizations of Biblical characters, which were interesting stories, but otherwise, nope. It seems contradictory, I know, but when I read, I want to escape to somewhere that stretches my imagination. The story of how someone “finds Jesus” and has his life change can be
important and maybe even compelling, but they’re not for me.
I also tend to shy away from the idea that once a character has “true faith,” life just falls together. Even in fantasy, that doesn’t ring true.
So how do these attitudes shape your writing and your anthology, Infinite Space,
Although though a large
percentage of my characters are Catholic or Christian, they tend to express their faith in their actions rather than proclaim
it with their words. For example, in “These Three,” (in Infinite
Space, Infinite God) Peter, our main character is severely injured, yet must make his way across the ship in order to get
to Auxiliary Control. He’s being escorted by an apparition of the Blessed
Gillian of L5 (Blessed means she’s not yet a saint.) In order to distract
him from his pain, she suggests they recite the Stations of the Cross, a Catholic ceremony that recalls the journey Jesus
took down the Via Dolorosa while carrying his own cross to his crucifixion:
“…We'll do Stations. Come on, now. Hand over hand."
Wearily, Pete obeyed, though his hands trembled and slipped. The progress
seemed unbearably slow, but just like Sister Linda, the vision was patient, praising each tentative effort. Unlike Sister
Linda, the vision pushed him whenever he faltered. After awhile, the numbness began to set in, but he also felt himself slipping
into a kind of hazy non-being. He could hear a woman's voice intoning something--the Stations of the Cross. Three rungs and
a station. Jesus faltered, so can you. He got up again, so can you. Three more rungs,
and we'll pause for another station. Automatically, he murmured the responses, ingrained from 12 years of Catholic
school, but he couldn't quite hear them. It became a dizzying drone. He shook his head to clear it and moaned.
"Talk to me," the vision urged. "Tell me why you wanted to be a spacer so
When we selected
stories for Infinite Space, Infinite God, we wanted stories that had strong characters who were Catholic, though not necessarily
strong Catholics. Some are lapsed, some are having problems with their faith,
some are having problems because of their faith.
detective is a lapsed Catholic seeking a madman who’s murdering priests. As
he seeks to understand the murder’s motives, he starts to understand his own conflicts about the Church.
and my “Daily Bread,” when the Communion Hosts start mysteriously multiplying on an asteroid mining station, it
causes conflicts among those who believe in the miracle and those who think it’s a set-up staged by the station’s
Catholic character gets chosen for an extremely risky trip back in time because his supervisor thinks it’d be funny
to send a Catholic back to see the crucifixion.
Catholic terrorist hides behind his faith to justify his murdering a busload of Protestant children, but when an experimental
medical procedure removes those defenses, it’s the power of the Sacrament of Reconciliation that saves his sanity.
For the rest, faith
sustains them through the crises in the story.
The other thing
we insisted on was that the stories be really good science fiction, which meant that the science had to be plausible and believable
regardless of how fantastic it seemed. Adreinne Ray gave us a unique and disturbing
method for teleportation. When I read Ken Pick’s and Alan Loewen’s
scene where the ship jumps into hyperspace, I felt like I was on the bridge. Lori
Scott checked her cloning science with a professor of genetics, and it shows.
Finally, it was top-quality
writing. After all, I knew I’d be reading these stories over and over again,
whether to edit, proofread, or to refresh my memory before interviews. I wanted
to be able to enjoy them each time.
So, then, how do you feel about the saying “write what you know”?
I have mixed feelings. On the one hand, I do tend to write in the genres I enjoy and my characters do have
a lot of personality aspects I’m familiar with--like being Catholic.
On the other hand, I find it limiting. I didn’t know anything about
asteroid mining or wresting in zero gravity, but I learned them because my story needed it.
And I discovered in editing this book, that there were a lot of things I didn’t really know about my own faith. Maya’s story taught me a lot about the nature of confession, and Rose Dimond,
the dear woman, had to re-write parts of her story as she and I both came to understand the reasons behind some of the more
controversial Catholic issues in her story.
So don’t write what you know--write what you’re willing to learn.
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
I would like to be doing half as well as Mercedes Lackey as far as volume of output and popularity. She's a fantastic writer with rich worlds and a terrific imagination.
I'm not sure I would want as much as she has, however. Not sure I could
In more measurable goals, I'd like to have the Miscria Trilogy published and having done well, perhaps out in reprint
with a few more novels in that universe. My Dragon Eye, PI series would be doing
well with book 5, and I'd have a couple of books in my Rescue Sisters universe besides.
I'd have a few more ideas or manuscripts in my head, on the computer or with my agent.
My husband and I would be collaborating on the next book over dinner.
Mostly, though, I'd be enjoying grandchildren and spending free time with Rob, doing the things we love best: loving,
learning and writing.