Meet Danielle Stinson.
Stories were a central part of Danielle Stinson’s childhood. Growing up in a military family meant frequent moves across the US and abroad. She spent many summers in her room surrounded by unpacked boxes and stacks of library books. She currently lives with her husband and four boys in Virginia, where she writes fiction for young adults.
Before I Disappear is her debut novel.
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The Guest Post.
When I sat down to write this blog post, I wasn’t expecting it to turn into an open love letter to the genres I read, write and adore, but I’m not mad that this is what ultimately happened. The truth is that I do love science fiction and fantasy, and I believe with all my heart that they are for everyone. And maybe not for the reasons that you might expect.
Let’s face it. Sometimes we read books simply because we need to escape. No genres provide a better exit hatch than science fiction and fantasy. Want to leave earth and travel to another galaxy? No problem. Feel like hanging out with fantastical beings or going on a quest through make believe words? Science fiction and fantasy have got you covered. We all need to escape sometimes, but very few have the option to just pack a bag and head off into sunset whenever we feel like it. That is what books are for.
But there is more to sci-fi and fantasy than pure escapism. Sometimes, we read them to strike at the heart of what is Real. What is True. Science fiction and fantasy are playgrounds for the heaviest, most enduring themes and questions about what it means to be human. They are the battlegrounds for good and evil. Blank canvases for the interplay of complex human relationships and systems of belief. While the rich world building, clever premises, and tight plots might bring us into story, they aren’t why we remember them years afterward. We remember them because of the characters and their struggles to navigate the shades of grey that we experience in our own lives. Hello, Katniss and Frodo.
Science fiction and fantasy excel at placing characters in extraordinary circumstances, forcing them to make impossible decisions that call everything into question. So doing, they thrust us into the most intricate of moral dilemmas, asking us to evaluate what things matter most. Who we want to be. In essence, works of science fiction and fantasy can serve as portals not just to other worlds, but as microscopes that reveal the inner workings of human nature.
Speaking of truths, one of my favorite things about science fiction in particular is that it is a genre dedicated purely to the possible. Most works of sci-fi deal not in what is, but what could be. They ask tough questions about technology and progress. About exploration and isolationism. Questions that seem to be striking a relevant note when you consider the high demand for dystopian fiction in popular markets over the last decade. I also love how many works of science fiction, no matter how futuristic or seemingly far-fetched, are rooted in some degree of reality.
The list of merits of science fiction and fantasy is nearly endless, but the last one I’ll mention here is arguably the most important to my mind. Freedom. By allowing our imaginations free rein, by taking us away from our world and all its rules and ways of thinking, science fiction and fantasy give us a chance to start over. To see the world through new eyes and break out of our established paradigms and prejudices. One of my very favorite things about these stories is that they often teach us about ourselves and our world on almost subconscious levels. They help us think outside of our own boxes and adjust our viewpoints without feeling our own identities are threatened. I guess you could say some of the deepest, most meaningful truths ever told are told through these types of fiction.
These are some of the reasons I read science fiction and fantasy and believe strongly that they are for everyone. But if I’m being honest, none of these reasons are why I write them.
I write science fiction because I love it. Because one of my favorite things to do is imagine our own contemporary word, but with a mind-bending twist. Because I feel the pull of the mysterious unknown and love nothing more flipping pages as fast as my eyes can devour them. When I sat down to write BEFORE I DISAPPEAR, my debut novel, my only goal was to write a something that would make the reader feel their heart pound. So I wrote about a small town that disappears into thin air and a girl who has to find her little brother before he disappears forever. It’s got atmosphere, mystery and twists galore, but at its heart, it’s a book about people and the type of bonds that can never be broken.
A story that I believe isn’t just for people who like science, but for anyone.
Stinson’s debut Before I Disappear is out today!
Visit her website for more information.