Name: Sharon Kae Reamer
Location (as I am wondering if it is regional)? Expatriate American now living in Cologne, Germany.
How pervasive do you think fantasy/sci-fi is in our society today? It is all-pervasive in the sense that most everyone has seen a SFF movie. But there are many people I meet who have never read a SF or fantasy book. For example, I know many people who’ve seen The Hobbit trilogy and LoTR films but have never read the books. I’ve encountered quite a few people who have told me, flat out, that they would like to read my books but that they don’t like fantasy. I don’t try to argue with them. To each his/her own.
Why do you think this is? It suggests that genre literature, in particular, speculative fiction, is still not seen to be something ‘worthy’ as literature. Maybe in some sense it is still perceived as ‘pulp’ fiction or escapist literature. It is escapist literature, but I view ALL literature as escapist. Maybe because fantasy and SF are not perceived to have social relevance to the problems we face in today’s world (or even historically). But I think that’s a huge mistake in perception, at least from my point of view. If done right, the speculative genre can be a fantastic mirror to aspects of our culture on this planet.
Are these genres seen in a more acceptable light than they used to be? Yes, probably, but as stated above, mainly in the media of film and television rather than books. Although in YA, I think anything is possible these days. It seems to be the playground where speculative fiction is most highly tolerated.
What makes a ‘hero’? Would you say this definition is different within literature to real life? A hero is someone who has been forced to abandon his or her ‘normal’ life for a greater purpose, be it saving someone they love, a quest to retrieve a magical or scientific artefact for the force of good, or to battle against a negative force to save the world/universe, just to name a couple examples. There are many definitions of what heroism is or does. It can also be a small thing, like being faithful and waiting for someone to return even if there is no hope of it (Ulysses’ wife Penelope comes to mind here).
Ideally, I don’t see a lot of difference between real life and literature heroes, except that real life heroes do not have to deal with magical or science fictional type situations. Doctors Without Borders is a ‘hero’ in real life because they save people. Superheroes in fiction save people but on a much more extravagant scale. But DWB are superheroes to me in real life. J
If you’re a writer how do you portray heroism in your books? My heroine from The Schattenreich series, Caitlin Schwarzbach, will risk anything to save those she loves. To me, that is heroism. It’s a quiet kind of heroism. She doesn’t want to put herself in danger, but she does because she can’t stand the thought of anything bad happening to those she loves.
How important are ‘facts’ in fantasy/science fiction – does something need to be plausible to be believable? There are two famous quotes I think summarize the differences in how things work in fantasy and science fiction:
“Science fiction is something that could happen – but you usually wouldn’t want it to. Fantasy is something that couldn’t happen – though you often only wish that it could.” Arthur C. Clarke, 2000
“Fantasy is the impossible made probable. Science Fiction is the improbable made possible.” Rod Serling, 1962
In both SF and F, plausibility is a hugely important factor. Otherwise, we cannot take the reader with us. He/she will be left standing in the wizard’s laboratory/launch pad while we go merrily off alone (cackling madly and collecting cats) into the worlds we have built. As a reader, I have to believe that whatever is going on on the page is plausible, be it giant space worms or man-eating unicorns or intelligent slime mold. These things may or may not exist (i.e., they are not ‘facts’ in any sense in the world we live in at present), but if they are presented to be an integral and logical part of the world the author has built, in other words, plausible, then I will accept their existence in that world as ‘fact’ .
What science fiction/fantasy has influenced you most? What would you say the most influential writers/film-makers? I came of age in relation to science fiction and fantasy reading in the early eighties. Many of those writers are ones that I still think of fondly. Isaac Asimov, Roger Zelazny, Ursula K. LeGuin, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Poul Anderson, Larry Niven, William Gibson, Lewis Carroll, Frank Herbert, Douglas Adams. Andre Norton, Marion Zimmer Bradley. I could go on for a long time. I don’t know if all their works would still hold up now if I read them again. But it doesn’t matter. They were influential in making me a reader of speculative fiction, and so remain very influential.
In relation to films, I’d guess T.O.S.S. that my parents let me watch (my younger brother was not allowed to watch it when the series first came out). I was riveted from the very first episode of Star Trek, and still love the concept. I instantly fell in love with the original Star Wars trilogy as well as the first three Indiana Jones films and simply could not wait for the sequels to come out. It was excruciating. There was also 2001, and a slew of others since then. There were also those weird fantasy/horror films, many or most of them black and white films, I remember from my childhood that influenced me a great deal (most of which I saw on television): The 5000 Fingers of Doctor T, The Haunting, all those monster movies, most of which I watched with my Dad – The Werewolf was probably the scariest to me – and Invaders From Mars, any Outer Limits or Twilight Zone episode, The Wizard of Oz, Godzilla and Mothra – these were all influential to me growing up. My Dad still enjoys trying to get me to watch films that will scare the crap out of me when I visit him. I’m usually a willing participant, but I sometimes regret it afterwards when I’m trying to get to sleep. The first film I ever saw in the movies was 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea with Kirk Douglas and James Mason which my grandfather took me to see. It made a huge impression on me.
Nowadays, the fantastical or science fictional movie has loads of special effects and is presented so realistically that if I were a kid growing up today, I’d be hooked on SFF all over again.
Fairy-tales, anthropomorphic personifications, mythical beasts and cultural fantastical persons are all about us – such as Santa Claus, St George, dragons and fairies – how vital are these for our identity? Are we who we are because of the myths our cultures hold? My Schattenreich series contains Celto-Germanic deities. Some of the deities portrayed and characterized are purely Celtic. Some have crossover status (i.e., they exist in both the Celtic and Germanic pantheons). My interpretations of these fantastical persons, as such, are vital to the identity and worldviews of the characters in my series. Because the religions I portray do not exist any longer in the modern world in their original form, I don’t really know how important they are to our identity. But because there are a large number of neopagan or modern pagan religions that use some of these divinities in their practice, I believe they have relevance to who we are, even if it is just in recognizing the god/goddess within us. Most of us who have some sort of northern European ancestry can probably relate to the fantastical portrayal of the Celtic and Germanic pantheon. This has continued from early historical times (i.e., during the late Iron Age) right up until the present. I don’t believe in any fantastical creatures, although I think they are important as they give us the means to learn something about ourselves and have formed the basis for our modern culture. In other parts of the world, ancient religions populated with one or more deities are still important to the identity of the cultures. And much of this representation is based on myths, even for the major religions (even those with only a monotheistic pantheon) of the modern world.
So I would say the answer to the second question is: yes, totally.
Here’s some links:
http://sharonreamer.blogspot.com (redirects to sharonreamer.blogspot.de)
The books in The Schattenreich series (published) are Primary Fault, Shaky Ground, Double Couple, and Shadow Zone. Forthcoming in summer, 2015: Triple Junction (final book)
Primary Fault has been honoured with a Indy B.R.A.G. medallion and Indie Book of the Day.