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The Creative Issue – News for Creatives | July 12, 2020

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Putting Science In Your Fiction with Charlotte Nash

Putting Science In Your Fiction with Charlotte Nash
Rebecca Ellis

With National Science Week just a hop and a skip away, QWC is getting in with the science spirit and hosting yet another workshop that is not to be missed - Putting Science In Your Fiction.

Putting Science In Your Fiction is for fiction writers who are looking to add a little something extra to their writing.

Whether you’re writing technological thrillers or laboratory made monsters, being able to communicate the science behind your characters minds will build a stronger, more compelling and believable story.

Charlotte Nash

The workshop will be hosted by Australian fiction writer, Charlotte Nash.Charlotte Nash grew up riding horses in the Redlands of Brisbane. She has degrees in engineering and medicine and has even built rockets as a day job. These days, she has decided to peruse her love of writing.

For the attendees of Putting Science In Your Fiction, Charlotte will take you through the steps of utilising the science of the real world to enhance your narrative.

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Charlotte’s debut novel – Ryders Ridge

Between working on her manuscripts and preparing for her QWC workshop, Charlotte found a few moments to spare and gave us some insight into the clashing world of science and fiction.

CD: Engineer turned writer – that’s quite a change. Why the entire career change and not just choosing to write as a hobby?

Charlotte: Well, for a long time, it was a hobby. I wrote at night and weekends, sometimes in my lunch break. When I made the jump into writing professionally, it wasn’t into fiction alone – I couldn’t have paid the bills. Instead, I worked as a technical writer and wrote fiction “at a loss”. The two marry quite nicely though; these days, I have what’s called a portfolio career – many different jobs (teaching, fiction, technical, corporate) that all revolve around writing and editing.

CD: Do you have any advice for those who are uncertain of perusing a career in writing?  

Charlotte: If we’re talking about fiction, then the advice I have is stick with it. Talent is cheap – persistence is rare. Overnight successes are not the rule. You have to view it like any other profession, and that usually means a few years learning the basics, followed by more time in professional development as you progress.The only other thing I’d say is that you’ll know in your heart once you’ve tried it whether you’re cut out for this. Writing is highly romanticised, and it is nice to have successes, but the reality is not always shiny. Many (most?) writers, even the ones who are relatively successful, do it part-time. The financial realities make it so, even if the isolation doesn’t.

CD: Some writers joke about having ‘a happy place.’ A place where they do all their best writing. Do you have your own little spot reserved for writing? 

Charlotte: Ha…actually, no, I don’t believe in that – if I did, I’d never get anything done. I’ve written in cafes, in libraries, in airport waiting lounges, on the couch, on friends’ dining room tables, on hotel room tables, and in food courts. My best writing comes from a mental space that doesn’t seem to respond to external stimuli. I get there with planning and thinking about the story; where it happens doesn’t really matter.

CD: What are you currently working on?

Charlotte: I’ve just turned in the manuscript for my second rural/medical romance novel [Iron Junction], so now I’m working on two short stories: a steampunk story called The Ghost of Hephaestus and a rural lit one called Spurs & Spotlight. I’m also in the planning stages of my next novel, a military/rural story.

CD: You are presenting QWC’s upcoming workshop, Putting Science In Your Fiction. Do you mind telling us why you chose to get involved with this workshop? 

Charlotte: Science (and all its applications) was perhaps my first love in life, and understanding how the world works makes it cooler and more awesome. So naturally, I love finding science links in stories, and putting them in my own, whatever genre that is. Some writers stick to a narrow genre, but I pretty much write them all – science fiction (including steampunk and cyberpunk), fantasy, horror, romance … and I draw on my engineering and medical background in just about everything. With shows like The Big Bang Theory, nerd culture is now sort of trendy, but it wasn’t always that way. It’s great to be able to talk about science in fiction, especially when it’s not just about science fiction and crime.

CD: How important is fact (whether it be scientific or otherwise) in fiction exactly? 

Charlotte: It’s all about expectation – some genres demand attention to factual detail, for example, procedural crime and some hard science fiction – others will be more forgiving or even demand subversion of fact. More important than fact is internal consistency, and this applies to any genre. If you’ve established the science “rules” for your story, you must stick to them, especially if they’re important to the plot. This is particularly important with science fiction, fantasy and any genre that allows you to extrapolate or invent world rules. Of course, there will always be stickler readers who won’t allow you to get away with anything!

CD: Why should fiction writers attend Putting Science In Your Fiction? 

Charlotte: It’s a consciousness raiser. Writers talk a lot about doing research for fiction, and about world building generally, but this workshop is like a specialised sub-set of both, focused on science. Whether you’re into science culture, or completely outside it, the exercises will stimulate thinking about how science can be used, and some techniques for how to integrate it at both structural and scene level. In addition (and most importantly) it should be fun!

The details:

What: Put Science in Your Fiction with Charlotte Nash Stewart

Where: Queensland Writers Centre Level 2, State Library of Queensland, Stanley Place, Cultural Centre, South Brisbane 4101

When: Saturday 10 August 10:30am – 4:30pm

How much: Cost: QWC members $110/ $99 Non-members $160 / $144

More Info: Bookings essential! Visit the QWC website or call (07)3842 9922 to secure your place now.

Photo references:

Image 1 & 2 sourced from http://charlottenash.net/