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.
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.