The “new adult” genre and the approaching genre singularity

October 8, 2012 § 9 Comments

Yes, I understand that genres are useful because they help booksellers know where to shelve new books and readers find books similar to those they already like. That said, do we really need so many of them?

In case you’ve missed the news, the powers that be have decided to shoe-horn yet another genre in between children’s books and “adult” books (maybe I should call them “grown up books” as “adult books” sounds like 50 Shades of Gray). “New adult” is the new genre, and in case your powers of deduction are failing you today, it describes books between young adult and old adult books, (which I will henceforth just refer to as “boring books”) and as far as I can tell is basically defined by having a protagonist of late high school or early college age.

In principle there is nothing particularly wrong with this and it might actually help me eventually sell a book as this is the range I sometimes I write in. Like I said, there really are uses for genre distinctions. But I can’t help but feel that this “new adult” genre is either a) just a way to get adult readers to feel less embarrassed about reading books described as “young adult,” or b) write more salacious and “adult” scenes in YA books while still being able to maintain that they aren’t targeted to young adults. « Read the rest of this entry »

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Tension, Prologues, and Dramatic Irony

February 2, 2012 § 5 Comments

Or: How David Eddings ruined a perfectly good book by including a prologue

First off, I apologize for the few new posts as of late. I’ve talked about the Three Stooges Syndrome here before, and I happen to be struggling with a bad case of it. I’m trying to crank out another short story or two to get in the submissions merry-go-round, finish the young adult steampunk novel that I’ve been working on for the last year (draft six, here I come), and a few new projects have come down the pipeline at work and are taking more creative energy than usual (which is a welcome challenge). Too many ideas have been trying to get out of my brain all at once, and hence none of them were making it through the door.

I had to cut back on something and, compared to work and writing, blogging isn’t my top priority. What that means is  for the next few weeks (or until things begin to lighten up) I’m going to blog only when I’ve got something demanding to be shared with you folks.

Which segues nicely into what brings me to my keyboard tonight…

I’ve had Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings, a young adult fantasy book « Read the rest of this entry »

The selective pigheadedness of fantasy fans

January 16, 2012 § 5 Comments

Or: The tension between fantasy and familiar

(Note: for anyone hoping for the second post on book trailers: It’s coming, but I haven’t had the time to put it together properly yet, so be patient)

Recently I found myself in a bookish conversation when my fellow reader took issue with the use of the word “id” in a fantasy story (though I can’t remember which story for the life of me). The argument was that id is part of a theory of the psyche that was developed by Freud, and since Freud had never lived in this fantasy world, the characters wouldn’t have any idea what id was.

I’ve raised similar issues before regarding technology or terms that don’t belong in a given fantasy world, my favorite being « Read the rest of this entry »

Book trailers from a video professional’s perspective

January 13, 2012 § 8 Comments

I’ve been meaning to talk about book trailers for a while, but it was an overwhelming subject to tackle. Then, during the Tuesday night episode of Jersey Shore (I didn’t watch. I just heard. Don’t hate me) there was a book trailer for The Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare, which precipitated this post. (Note: for anyone not up to speed on book advertising, book trailers are basically a video hook to try and entice readers to buy your book, much like a movie trailer.)

I have something of a unique perspective on book trailers because, in addition to spending my free time writing and reading, I work full time as video producer and editor « Read the rest of this entry »

Where are the ents?

December 20, 2011 § 2 Comments

I was playing Boggle today with my wife and good friend (and beta reader) when my wife tried to take points for spelling “ent.” For those of you who don’t know, ents are the tree-like shepherds of the forest from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings.  My wife claimed the word in jest because I always write it down and it always leads to fellow players accusing me of making up words.  We’ve played out this scenario dozens of times, but for some reason, today it gave me pause.

It struck me this time how interesting it is that ents remain on the geeky fringe of culture, while other creatures have snuck into the mainstream. If someone tried to claim elves or dwarves in Boggle, I wouldn’t bat an eye. More to the point, if someone found “orcs,” I would totally give them points. Now Tolkien didn’t invent dwarves or elves (though he deserves the credit for pushing them in the direction of the mainstream), but orcs were Tolkien’s entirely.   « Read the rest of this entry »

Heroes needed. Farm boys and orphans need not apply

December 13, 2011 § 7 Comments

The other day I was writing a three-hundred word bio to accompany my short story being published in Andromeda Spaceways (it’s actually happening, I swear, just a month behind schedule [I’m still crossing my fingers for an absence of phallic cover art]), which gave me a great opportunity to reflect on why I write.

First, let me just say that I loath writing bios or anything about myself. I’d rather be locked into a Matilda-style spiked box, “the pokey” (not to be confused with Mario’s strange cactus-like enemy) than write about myself. There’s so much pressure to come across as funny, but also serious about writing, and not to use too many adverbs or exclamation points. In the words of Liz Lemon: blerg. But I digress. « Read the rest of this entry »

“Borrowing” from other books: how much is too much?

November 11, 2011 § 15 Comments

I’ve been wanting to talk about this for a while, and with the publishing of the last Eragon book and the recall of Assassins of Secrets this week after accusations of plagiarism, I didn’t see any reason to wait any longer.

If you haven’t heard the news, Assassins of Secrets, a spy thriller “by” (I use that term loosely here) Q.R. Markham, was due to be released Thursday and had received very positive reviews, but after it came to light that dozens of passages in the book were pulled word for word from a wide variety of spy novels, old and new, it was pulled from the shelves. Now the bestselling Inheritance Cycle, of which the first is Eragon, doesn’t do anything remotely as egregious as dear Mr. Markham, but still, the most common complaint I hear leveled against the series is its unoriginality. « Read the rest of this entry »

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