Meet Guest Author A.C. Flory…

self-portraitHi, my name is Andrea, and I’m a writer,” she said, stumbling over her words.

That’s me, A.C. Flory, science fiction writer and introvert extraordinaire. I’m not stereotypically shy, and if you ask me about one of my passions, I’ll happily chew your ear off, but talking about myself and my writing still feels…odd. Perhaps that’s why I didn’t start writing fiction until I was forty-eight.

I may have been a late bloomer when it came to storytelling, but reading was another matter entirely. I began reading for pleasure when I was eight, and by twelve I’d read Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment…and loved it. Before anyone gets too excited, I have to point out that education was very different back then, especially in the Catholic school system. We were expected to be really good at ‘reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic’ by the time we reached the end of primary school, so I was not all that precocious.

By the time I reached secondary school in the early 60s [1960s] I’d lightened up quite a bit, and I remember writing a brilliant, humorous essay about the digestive system for a school assignment. Well, I thought it was funny. The teacher disagreed, and that was where my fledgling writing career stalled for the next few decades.

When I say ‘stalled’, I don’t mean that I stopped writing; I spent most of my twenties in universities so I did a lot of writing. For my BA., I majored in Philosophy and Japanese. Lots of writing there. Then there was even more writing for my Dip. Ed., followed by lab. reports and statistical analyses for Behavioural Sciences. And finally, there was a decade of user guides for off the shelf computer software. But in all that writing, I didn’t write fiction. At All.

Some authors talk about writing stories from the moment they’re old enough to hold a pen, but I never did. I always saw myself as logical and pragmatic, so my imagination only came out to play in that twilight zone between true wakefulness and sleep. Yet in hindsight, I recognize that even in my day dreams, the story had to make sense.

Meanwhile, out in the real world, my waking self was having some adventures of her own. I spent a year in Europe, learned to ride a motorbike, went up in an unmanned glider [as a passenger] and almost lost my lunch when the pilot of a small aircraft showed me what a barrel roll felt like from the inside. And all the while, I was learning life lessons as well, not all of them pleasant.

Yet, unbeknownst to me, learning about my own strengths and weaknesses was another necessary step on the path to becoming a writer. Research is vitally important, but no amount of second-hand information can provide insights into the human condition. Only empathy and experience can do that. To write about life, you first have to live.

Well, I did my living, and when life became a bit too stressful, I escaped into the worlds of science fiction and fantasy: the Lord of the Rings, Stranger in a Strange Land, Dune, The Left Hand of Darkness, Otherland, The Farseer Trilogy, Wool, Necromancer, Perdito Street Station…all brilliant novels that showed how character, world building, plot and beautiful prose could combine to create something truly extraordinary.

A lot of people think that writing good fiction requires nothing more than a novel idea, a firm grasp of grammar and a decent spell-checker, but they’re wrong. Fiction is all about persuasion, and learning how to persuade is not easy.

It took me thirteen years to learn how to create believable worlds and believable people, but the hardest lesson of all involved unlearning all I thought I knew about writing.

Writing fiction is not about precision and logic, it’s about feelings and effortless, flowing prose that provides the hidden ‘soundtrack’ to the action. It’s not poetry, but the choice of one word rather than another can change the whole rhythm of a sentence. And what is the core of music but rhythm?

I often read my work out loud, much to the confusion of my dog, to ensure the ‘music’ sounds right. And I always write with music, to put the technical writer in me to sleep.

In many ways, I’m still day dreaming for my own enjoyment, but at least now, I’ve found the confidence to share my dreams with others. And who knows? Maybe one day, I won’t stumble when I introduce myself as a writer. 🙂

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56 thoughts on “Meet Guest Author A.C. Flory…

    • That has definitely been true for me Trish, at least in terms of having more to say. The effortless prose however… I have a couple of writer friends who are capable of creating lovely prose, straight off the bat, but I think most writers, me included, have to work at it. In the end, it’s always the story that matters, not how or how fast it happens. Reading between the lines, I’d say you have something that’s important to you, something you want to say. Write it and polish it, until it /looks/ effortless. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  1. Reblogged this on TINA FRISCO and commented:
    Author A.C. Flory is a guest on The Story Reading Ape, where she refers to the rhythm and flow in our writing as the “hidden ‘soundtrack’ to the action.” Being a musician and songwriter, this struck a chord in me ~ no pun intended ~ maybe 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. A late blooming writer, I am, too. Introverted? Check. Published? Not yet, but I’m working on it. Maybe soon.
    I have to admit, you have had a much more exciting life than I. Most of my younger days were spent getting drunk and making bad decisions. The illegal kind of bad.
    Be that as it may, I am much better now, with over 20 years away from alcohol. I am still hard on myself concerning my writing, so that’s something else I have to work on.
    Congrats on your accomplishments! Hope many more come your way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi John. Life experience comes in many shapes and sizes. I think yours was a great deal harder than mine, but I’ll bet you learned an awful lot about yourself, and other people, in the process. That is pure, unadulaterated gold to a writer. I wish you all the best with one small caution: don’t wait too long to put your work out there!

      Liked by 2 people

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