In August of 2004, as my sister Renee lay dying of congestive heart failure brought on by complications with diabetes, I picked up my first paranormal romance novel. Renee was an avid romance fan, and up until then I’d been a hardcore sci-fi snob along the lines of Asimov’s Foundation series and Glenn Cook’s Black Company series. The romance novel by Sherrilyn Kenyon called NightPlay hooked me from the very start with its mix-up of time-travel and paranormal anti-heroes and her imperfect heroines with their hard-won happy ending. Something I desperately needed right then. In the following months, I not only devoured every romance by this author and several others, but I began writing my first full length novel.
The novel Timewalkers: They Also Walk Through Walls (prospective editors were not crazy about the name) did not get published, but it did final in several contests and won the Colorado RWA Heart of the Rockies in 2006. In Timewalkers a young adult woman tries unsuccessfully to break into the motorcycle racing circuit and then time-travels to a perfect future where all is not what it seems. This is a solarpunk world where our cities are in the sky with clean energy and renewable resources, and the earth down below has been restored to it’s pristine state so that global pastoralography is a viable science.
There were two people who first clued me in that I might have something special here. One was agent extraordinaire Kristen Nelson, who read and chose my story as the winner of the contest. That vote of confidence encouraged me to keep writing and developing my voice. But it was Chris Keesler, who at the time was an editor for Dorchester, that made me realize I’d developed something unique. At a time when lots of other writers were emulating Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series and doing time travel to the past, Keesler wanted to know what made me write a time travel to the future. When I described a perfect world where all is not what it seems, his reaction considering his broad knowledge about the different genres in science fiction, including cyberpunk, sparked the connection in my mind to the name solarpunk.
From there, I experimented with other genres, but my heart brought me back to this impossibly perfect future. Around 2009, when I began writing DONOR that’s when I knuckled under and finally wrote down every piece of worldbuilding rule I could think of including a working definition. In all, I’ve got dozens of files discussing various aspects of the genre that I hope to share with you some day soon. On April 1st, 2015, Carbon Culture Review will be publishing an interview with me by Alyssa Watson in which I discuss some of the rules and the definition I use. I hope you’ll take the time to read that interview and leave a comment.
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Miss you forever, big sister. I hope you found your own piece of perfection. Renee Yetska D. 1954-2004.