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Thursday, February 7, 2019

Genre-hopping writing success

“Often, when you look at history, at least through the lens that many of us have looked at history - high school and college courses - a lot of the color gets bled out of it. You're left with a time period that does not look as strange and irrational as the time you're actually living through.” – Karen Joy Fowler

Born in Indiana on this date in 1950, Fowler studied Political Science, then took dance classes with an eye on being a classical dancer before trying her hand at writing and realizing that was the right career path for her to follow.  Although she might be best known for her mega-best selling novel The Jane Austen Book Club, she started her career penning short stories, beginning with the award-winning “Recalling Cinderella.” 
        After 10 years of short story writing, she published her first novel, Sarah Canary, to critical acclaim, winning the prestigious James Tiptree, Jr. Award in the process.  That literary prize is given for science fiction or fantasy that "expands or explores our understanding of gender."  Sarah Canary focuses on a group of people experiencing a peculiar kind of “first contact.”   Fowler said she wrote the book to "read like a science fiction novel to a science fiction reader" and "like a mainstream novel to a mainstream reader,” leaving it to each individual reader’s interpretation. 

Fowler’s career has been marked by her willingness to try several different genres, particularly Science Fiction, Fantasy and Literary Fiction.   “The smart way to build a literary career is you create an identifiable product, then reliably produce that product so people know what they are going to get,” she said.  “That's the smart way to build a career, but not the fun way. Maybe you can think about being less successful and happier. That's an option, too.”

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