On the heels of publishing my new novel, If Souls Can Sleep, I penned a couple of guest posts for blogs devoted to the readers and writers of speculative fiction.
The first article describes in painful detail how unwary readers can be bitten by the writer’s bug. It published on Jan. 29 in Rising Shadow. The second guest post focuses on the dangers of genre fiction. That one published on Feb. 4 in Sci-Fi and Scary.
Here’s a peek at both of them:
The best books make readers want to become writers
We all begin as oblivious victims.
Maybe it happened when you were a child, cracking open the cover of a surreal Seussian story. Or maybe the transformation transpired during adolescence when you first confronted the consciousness-expanding, mind-bending narratives of that pantheon of authors who enthrall the human psyche with the outlandish and otherworldly.
Whatever the circumstances, the books you’ve explored have changed you. You are a reader. Moreover, you are a reader of fantasy and science fiction.
Oh, the words on the page seem innocuous enough. It’s just fiction, after all. But make no mistake: you’ve been infected by imagination.
And I’m sorry to report that sometimes creativity is contagious.
Why genres must die
Imagine coming face to face with chaos incarnate.
Maybe it’s an ancient abomination awakened by a sorcerer’s incantation. Or a rogue AI, unburdened by conscience, bent on overwriting our reality. Or perhaps you’re confronting some failed science experiment, a monstrosity fixated on destroying the very order upon which our civilization thrives.
Now, whichever form you wish to give this anarchic force, imagine it has done the unthinkable by destroying all notions of genre.
That’s right. The man-made system for distinguishing offshoots of speculative fiction from one another as well as Westerns, romance and even more remote boughs of the fictional family tree has been uprooted. You’ve been cast into an overgrown wilderness where fiction is just fiction.
Your skin prickles as you consider the implications. Pushing back panic, you type the URL to your preferred bookstore. But you’re too late. The functionality to filter by category is gone; the shortcut to your favorite stories, snuffed out.
How will you ever sort through the thousands—no, millions—of books that have been published to find the science fiction, horror, and dark fantasy books you cherish?
If Souls Can Sleep
I contributed the above articles to gain some exposure for Book One of The Soul Sleep Cycle, which is now available in paperback and for Kindle.
Very interesting! Congrats on your new novel!
Thank you very much!
1) Rather than a curse, I consider imagination a gift that has blessed my life since before I could write. 🙂
2) Considering that traditional publishers have more marketing power, it concerns me that they turned down your book simply because they didn’t know what shelf to put it on. 😛 Diana Gabaldon is a true genre-bender, and she’s also hugely successful, so such narrow restrictions hurt everybody. I’d rather read a genre-bender than formulaic fiction.
I’ve pondered the restrictions of genre, word count, and the like, and the usual claims that if you don’t follow the rules, you won’t get sales. And then I remembered:
My favorite styles of music also fall outside the usual popular genres and restrictions. They don’t get pop-music-worthy sales because they don’t sound like Beyonce or Lady Gaga or whoever all is popular these days. And yet they have lots of devoted fans BECAUSE they don’t sound like Beyonce or Lady Gaga et al. The most popular web stream in the genre has a lot fewer listeners than any pop music web stream would. But I listen because, as far as I’m concerned, it’s better than anything else out there, and I can’t stand formulaic pop music.
So literary genres are the same. If you follow the formulas, you could get lots of readers. But if you don’t, and you’re good at your craft, there are people out there who want to read that and can’t stand the “fluff” of to-the-numbers fiction.
And that’s my greatest literary wish: to find an audience that appreciates an author who take risks!