The latest interview in our Writers of Fantasy series is with Kameron Hurley, author of the Gods War series, The Mirror Empire, and her new book of essays, The Geek Feminist Revolution (which is pretty amazing).
We talked about how she develops her cultures in writing, explores gender and sexuality, as well as building characters around stories. She has a lot of experience and is well worth listening to!
Your books expand and explore numerous cultures in depth; what has been the most interesting aspect of developing them?
I wanted to come up with cultures that I really hadn’t seen explored in other fantasy and science fiction novels. I see so many novels that will take exactly one “big idea” and have that be the only thing that changes in the entire world of the novels, and it feels astonishingly lazy to me. So they’ll throw in faster than light travel, but military and social hierarchies remain the same, people talk the same, live the same, the social mores are the same. And that’s just boring to me.
I read science fiction and fantasy because I want to go places that are really different. If all you’re doing is picking up a piece of tech and throwing it into a status quo version of the world we see on TV every day, I’m just not interested.
What I love most about creating cultures is seeing how each aspect affects every other aspect. So if you have a polyamorous matriarchy, say, there are very different conversations that go on about property inheritance/distribution, and while there’s still plenty of social drama, it’s very different drama, as it’s no longer “I can only choose one man!” it’s “We can all choose each other but now we need to figure out how to get along.”