I avoid writing contemporary because it’s too easy to get some detail wrong and have it take people out of the story. When I write about the past, it’s an alternative Steampunk world where I can make up whatever details I want. My strength is in writing the future, especially worlds and societies I would like to see come to fruition.
Looking at finishing projects I’ve started (as well as knowing what to discard) I’ve been thinking a lot about my Pangalactic Sojourner series. A couple of the stories are just vague outlines in my head, but others are more fleshed out.
They are contemporary.
Although it is possible to set a story vaguely somewhere-in-a-certain-decade, the theme of these make certain historical/newsworthy events important. The main character of each novel has a different sexual orientation. The faith-based romances are not written as some struggle to fit a unique sexual orientation into a Christian life; they are stories of how these five unique Christians found their happily-ever-afters. Their sexual orientation is part of that, but not the overwhelming aspect of their humanity.
When I started writing these stories, a few states had stepped up and legalized same-sex marriage. Step by step, the LGBTQ (and I know there are more letters in the acronym, but there’s a point at which it gets ridiculous) community gained more freedoms and equality. Whereas some of my characters simply and quietly live their lives and do not experience a great deal of oppression or harassment, other characters are more vocal and active in the support of their fellow LGBTQ persons. The many events, big and small, that have marked the last five or ten years do affect my characters, and I want to do justice to the details.
I intend to choose a period of a few years for these stories to take place. If I choose a time more than, say, five years ago, I will be able to look back and get a fairly clear view of the changes in LGBTQ rights. However this also makes a story feel out-of-date, stuck between present day and history. If I set the stories in a very recent year, I can’t see the big picture as clearly because I’m living it. We’ve made forward steps and backwards leaps. And in the end, if it takes several years before the stories are published, it might still feel dated.
The series is currently on the shelf, even though it is on my mind. I have other projects to finish first. When I do return to it, I need to outline the five stories and understand how they intertwine as well as how the real-life timeline affects them.
And I might choose 2016, because Pokemon Go is…strangely…relevant to one particular plot.