Why Different?

deflam / Foter

I just finished Judith Walkowitz’s excellent City of Dreadful Delight; I have her Prostitution and Victorian London in the revolving TBR stack, as well as a bunch of Jack the Ripper books.

Can you tell what the next Bannon & Clare features?

Speaking of which, I received a missive from a possibly-disgruntled fan this morning, inquiring why I’m not writing more Jill Kismet/Danny Valentine/leather and gunfire books. I am unsure whether Possibly-Disgruntled is upset that my current works are fantasy, YA, and weird alt-historical-with-magic-things; I’ve taken off down the path of Writing Different Things all my life. I wasn’t precisely bored with Jill Kismet–I could have happily written her several different character/story arcs–but I do like the chance to stretch myself. Doorstop fantasy was one of my first loves, and I wrote two trunk-novels that were sword-and-sorcery before I managed to produce something that would possibly sell in a completely different vein. I love fantasy, but at the point in my writing, I wasn’t good enough to write it.

Of course, I am sure some reviewers will say I’m no good at it now, or that I’m no good at anything. Opinions are like rectums–everyone has one, and everyone pretends theirs does not occasionally discharge effluvium.

This reminds me of the end of the first Valentine book, where people who had expected a paranormal-romance (heavy on the romance, HEA required) were rather rudely shocked. it also reminds me of several reviewers who openly wished I would go back to writing paranormal romance, instead of those icky books with gore and ambiguity. There will always be someone unhappy with what a writer is producing; there will always be someone unhappy when a change appears on the horizon.

Never mind that the “change” may be merely cosmetic–I’m sure there are “hallmarks” in my work. The figure of the inhuman protector, for one; a certain ambiguity in sexual matters, for another. I’m aware of my narrative kinks, and have largely made my peace with the fact that certain things are going to crop up, time after time. The themes need variation, or I wouldn’t be playing them. Genre is a pretty loose definition anyway, it has landmarks that are meant to be gently tweaked. Classification often says more about the person doing the classifying than anything else.

Anyway.

Why am I writing in “different” genres? Sometimes the story that falls out of my head isn’t easily pigeonholed in my “usual” genre. Sometimes I get an idea and want to try something different. Sometimes my writing partner makes an offhand comment, or I’ll go see a movie or read a book, that leads me down a new path. Sometimes I’m just plain having fun with a new set of shiny toys. It doesn’t change my commitment to telling a story the best way I know how, or my commitment to making every story that leaves my care and ventures out into the wider world as prepared as I can possibly make it. It doesn’t change the fact that I’m sitting here, day after day, ass in chair and fingers on keyboard, doing the work that must be done.

Those are the important things as far as I’m concerned. And goddammit, I am going to keep experimenting and doing what makes me wriggle with delight in my chair. And now, as Steven Brust once recommended tacking up on your writing wall, I am going to tell you something COOL. It’s what a writer does.

God knows we have to get some giggles out of this slogging game.

Over and out.

  • martianmooncrab

    I just want you to write faster… and another Demon Librarian book wouldnt go amiss, but, I am grateful to just get what comes next.. or a short story or two.. or a NeoSquirrel update..

    We takes what we gets.. because thats life.

  • Considering the crazy pace you keep to constantly produce new work, I’m not surprised that you need a bit of variety. I say do whatever feels right at the time.

  • I wouldn’t complain to any writer, but I will say that I LOVE the character of Japhrimel, and I miss him now that I’ve read all the Dante Valentine books. I reread the first one, simply because I missed him so much (I missed Dante also, but if I’m being honest, I missed the demon more). I think it would be interesting to hear the story in “Working for the Devil” from Japhrimel’s perspective. I also think Lucas Villalobos could tell some interesting stories, if he so chose. I have to admit, when I’m reading about Lucas, I see and hear him as if he were played by the actor who plays Mike Franks on NCIS.

  • Summer

    Change is the only constant in life and the sooner people except it….I won’t say it gets easier but it does help in dealing. I appreciate what ever it is your brilliant brain chooses to put on a page and publish. The faster you write…the faster we fans get to enjoy. =)

  • beth

    I have read most of what you have written and must say you are extremely versatile, some of it doesn’t even seem like it’s written by the same author. But I think the Strange Angels series is the best and that there’s a whole lot more story to write for Dru, Christoph, and Graves. I just reread all of them and am left wanting more, again. seriously, there’s still loose ends- Reckoning, needs to be reckoned!

  • Smeech

    Look I read everything you write no matter what genre it is. Yes, this whole Bannon and Clare thing sounds fun with London being involved.

    Am I disappointed there hasn’t been a Steelflower sequel yet? Yes, but not enough to stop reading your other books and living in hope of more Steelflower. Authors write different things and keep it fresh and that is the important part. I would rather read a different series by that author instead of wondering why is her current series sucking. Quality is more important than pigeonholing yourself in one genre.

  • BassoonBob

    I appreciate the variety in your stories. You are on my (very short) list of Authors-I-Will-Read-Anything-By (sorry for the ending preposition). Your characters draw me into the plot and keep me there, sometimes against my will! Thank you!

  • Claudia

    Hi. I just want to say that till now I loved all your books (of course some more … but they are all good reads) – so keep going and just write 🙂

    I am looking forward to the Bandit king and to Bannon & Clare: I absolutely loved the snippet’!

    thanks a lot for the good books!

  • Kayte

    Thumbs up for variety from me!
    Lots of the new novels out are great, especially the not-so-new steelflower, I really how that a sequel will be coming soon…

    I do miss Dante and Japh, I reckon there is still a lot that can be written about them and Liana since reading the short story “coming home”. I’d like to see a happy conclusion for once with Danny – all the books seemed to me were a non stop shit parade. Nothing ever went right for Danny, I got sick of her always being manipulated into doing stupid things, I was waiting for her to develop into a smarter character but it never happened.

    But even if you don’t write these, I’ll still keep reading the books. I just like your style if writing and characters.

  • erinf1

    It’s good to hear that you are enjoying what you are doing. And that’s what’s important b/c if you didn’t enjoy it, we wouldn’t have any new books. And I admire you for the talent and willingness to stretch and experiment. I love whatever you write and I enjoy the different genres/worlds. While I would love to read anything extra in the series you’ve already created, I understand getting to an “end”. Some of the series that I used to love but don’t read any more have become repetitive and should have ended a long time ago. But for whatever reason, the author was willing to sacrifice the integrity of the story/world to just sell books. And as a reader, yeah, I’m disappointed when a series ends, but I appreciate the integrity behind that decision b/c it means that I have truly gotten that author’s best.

    So, haters b hatin’ no matter what you do and I admire you for the ability to tune them out and do what you love. I don’t usually comment but I had to make an exception so that you know how much you are appreciated. In the end, it’s *your* story, your world and we are just privileged to be able to experience it too.

  • Viki E

    I honestly will read anything you write, although I really miss the Dante Valentine series. I just finished reading Steelflower and felt like someone slapped me when I couldn’t find book 2! But I would rather you stop a series then be forced to continue it for our sakes. I think we might lose…something in the telling of those “forced” stories. I’ll give Iron Wyrm Affair looksy and see what everyone one is fussing about…

    All in all I admire your ability to switch things up and write whatever story you need to tell.

  • Alex Berg

    You read my mind.