Atavistic Fiction in the Literary Multiverse

What is Atavistic Fiction? I’ll save you the dictionary lookup of atavism. It generally has a negative connotation in medicine as a form of reverse mutation, or by referring to the reemergence of unwanted traits from earlier generations. Webster’s second meaning is the focus of this essay and is the basis for my experimental writing: a recurrence or reversion to a past style, manner, outlook, approach, or activity.

Atavistic Fiction is borne out of my personal journey through the literary landscape. I’ve always had story ideas but never believed I could write a complete novel. I enjoy observing the people and world around me, questioning “why” and wondering “what if?” As many thoughts swirl around my brain eventually, several will magically join together like pieces of an interlocking puzzle to form a story. Whatever occurs to me is what I write, and it is my joy to experience the story twice; by participating in the wonder of creation and simultaneously reading it. In many ways, it is cathartic and uplifting for me. There is a sense of freedom as my mind expands beyond my mortal limitations as I transcribe the events my characters experience.

The concept of the multiverse has been around since Issac Newton’s Opticks, the possibility of multiple variations of our world operating under different laws of nature. Another variation of the multiverse is the diverging at a significant historical event to form vastly different realities, for example, P.K. Dick’s Man in the High Castle. Recent real-world quantum physics theory suggests that everything in the universe may be connected, that we may be one of an infinite number of distinct realities.

Atavistic Fiction is a mental time machine that we step through to an alternate experience. Atavistic Fiction is not nostalgia; it does not attempt to return to the lifestyle or morality of a previous time period, or of their cliched plots (which if you think about it, were entirely original at the time and have only become cliched because they have been reused so many times by lazy writers.) Atavistic Fiction picks up at the height of the classics without trying to recreate them but uses them as a jumping-off point for new exploration. It is merging of the creative spirit, the sense of wonderment, and the possibilities of life with engaging characters, coherent plot, vivid conflict, and contemporary wording. It marries the literary care for the craft of storytelling to crafty stories.

As a writer, I have improved by completing an MFA degree. That fact does not automatically vault me into the realm of being a good writer, just a better writer. It also gives me an idea of what I can do and what still needs work. The main point of my writing is always to acknowledge the truth of who we are, without apology, and without guilt, and without explanation. Atavistic Fiction seeks to restore a sense of wonderment, of childlike awe at the beauty surrounding us in the natural world and to emphasize the positive over the negative. A story should come to life as we read it, inhabit our minds and hearts as we gaze over the words, or rather, we should not be aware of reading as the words lift off the page and fill our minds with the events of the story. Atavistic Fiction is the vehicle that resonates with my artistic voice. I hope you enjoy it also.

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