My favorite authors tend to produce widely varied works. Ray Bradbury, God rest his soul, Margaret Atwood, Madeleine L'Engle, Lois Lowry, and Nick Joaquin to name a few. Bradbury and Atwood's stories touch upon a wide variety of subjects, told from various points of view, are in various genres. Realist, sci-fi, and fantasy elements are found in their body of work. L'Engle and Lowry handle equally with ease the humorous family story, science fiction and fantasy, and historical fiction.
It's no coincidence then that my writing is just as varied. My two first award-winning stories were realistic fiction and science fiction. My current published works include a children's story in The Night Monkeys, a story based on a Philippine myth in Alternative Alamat, and a mystery/historical fiction book Woman in a Frame.
Woman in a Frame is my first novel--not quite traditional novel-length, but a good length for an ebook. I conceived it for young adult readers, but given the dearth of Philippine historical fiction, it may just as well be enjoyed by older readers searching for historical fiction set in the Philippines in the nineteenth century. Well, it's not entirely set in the nineteenth century, though, as I also have contemporary teenage artists as characters.
See what I mean? I suppose it's appropriate that my first novel represents my wide variety of interests. Of course there's my interest in art grounding the whole novel. This covers ninteenth century arts and crafts and modern art.
I don't think I'm through with nineteenth century Philippine history and art. I immersed myself in it in my final year of college, when I wrote a thesis on women artists. There are still elements of the nineteenth century and Philippine art that I want to write about, and I would like to make a companion book to Woman in a Frame, historical fiction directed more to boys. But that doesn't mean I won't write in other genres and on other topics too. I have ideas for futuristic fiction set in the Philippines and a humorous ghost story that I'm dying to tackle. I even have a supernatural romance idea or two which I should probably work on while the genre remains popular.
I'm able to produce work in such a variety of genres and topics because my writing style fits itself to the material, and not the other way around. There are some writers whose writing tends to revolve around much the same sort of setting and theme. Jane Austen, Amy Tan, Lloyd Alexander to name my favorites of this sort. And it's not because they are limited in capability, because the worlds and characters they write about are extremely rich. I think it is more that they have developed a particular voice that is perfect for certain types of material.
I, however, find I only know how to say something once I have lost myself in my world. Asked to spin a tale just off the top of my head, I'm lost and end up groping for words. It's happened to me at on-the-spot writing/storytelling contests! I must first immerse myself in my material, until it takes over my body and speaks for itself through me. I am a shape-shifter, like the authors I named at the start of this essay. I can't speak for the authors I named above, but in my case, being a shape-shifter helps me to overcome my inhibitions and just write. Because when I am writing thus, I am no longer myself loaded with all my baggage, worried about other people's opinions of my work.