Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Personalities or Pigeon Holes

Ever notice how successful writers tend to write the same ‘types’ of books? I can think of exceptions, but for the most part authors tend to stick within closely related genres.

The doe eyed side of me wants to believe that’s because they want to write that kind of book. It is not a stretch to believe an author would prefer a specific genre, or feel more comfortable with one. BUT, the cynical side of me, the side that reads about the world of publishing every. single. day. knows it’s probably because they have been pigeonholed into whatever they were first successful in. 

I worry about this, almost obsessively.

But why Angela? Don’t you only write Paranormal Romance books?

HA HA nope.

Last year, I wrote at least one book for four different “Smart” boy book series. Barneby Knotts—which you can see the many first pages of here:


The Notorious Dogoodes: In a world where super heroes exist, Teddy DoGoode is not one of them.

Red Zeppelin and the Books of Tomorrow: Ottie and Everett quest to save the real books of the outer lands before they are recycled. Alt: 2 kids fight book banning and the e-books of the future.

Heroes & Vallenez: Vic Vallenez is not a Villain, but he’s not a saint either. When you sell information to the highest bidder, certain hazards come with the job.

Then this year, so far all I have written is young adult novels.

Pigments of My Imagination which is a paranormal romance, smart boy boy hybrid. It’s got the eternal romance with enough plot twist to make it another Da Vinci Code prequel. But I digress, it is not a paranormal romance, and neither is the book I am writing for the 3 Day Novel Contest working title: SCORNED

Here are some upcoming and current YA novels that are not para/supernatural.

Cloakers: Ancient Mayans believed some animals had the power to cloak themselves as human, and they should know, they created them.

Those Damned DeLeons: 3 brothers sell the temporary possession of their souls to the king of the underworld to repay their father’s debt. It does not end well.

Now since I know you were wondering, here are the true paranormal romance titles:

Skeleton Lake: Skeletons do regret. Drowning was the easy part. The beautiful but ghastly bones of broken boys & false flesh are now Marlow's whole world.

Place Holder Title: “Vampire Money” which I will talk about in an upcoming vlog/blog

Desdemona: A book that will effectively have taken me 10 years to write when it’s done, and I am still not good enough for it.

To see where everything falls on the Angela WRITE Now spectrum I have created a handy chart:


I am banking on some of you guys being Percy Jackson fans, if you read that genre you will definitely like my middle grade books. If not, well I worry they might never see the light of day. Wouldn’t that be depressing?

Anyway I want you to think about the kinds of books you write. Are they the “same” kind of book? Totally different? Now I want you to think if that is a good or bad thing and let me know.

Now I know what you’re thinking… Ang middle grade and young adult books are similar. Well sure, some are, but comparing Heroes & Vallenez to Skeleton Lake is like comparing Artemis Fowl to Twilight. There are huge gaping holes where the audience does not over lap. Yes, I know many of you enjoy both of these kinds of books, but if you are reading my blog, lets be honest, you’re a book person. Book people are freaks.


Patricia JL said...

99% of my books that I read have some form of paranormal creature in it. 100% of the books I write are paranormal. After that, I couldn't tell you how different they are. I've never much worried about it. lol

Darin Calhoun said...

Some industry people call this an "Author's Brand"; it's what an author's audience expects from them, and is the reason some authors write under different pen names.

Anonymous said...

The stories I write all have 'fantasy' elements in them but I tend to jump between historical, dramatic fantasy and contemporary, humorous fantasy (with a bit of mystery thrown in, going by the story I'm currently writing).

Unknown said...

I write Paranormal because that is what I love. I've always been obsessed with all things paranormal. I'm sure being raised on horror movies had something to do with my warped imagination, but my mom raised me to be very open minded. I love ghost stories, I started reading Anne Rice in middle grade, and laugh through horror movies (unless they are about needles. Now that's scary). So it's comfortable for me to write what I know and love. Give me a good nightmare any day. I'll turn it into writing fodder :P

Marc Mattaliano said...

I was thinking this same thing recently. My big three WIPs feel very similar, but are slightly different...

The Demihuman Archives is a futuristic tale about beings coming to Earth in 2000 and getting persecuted by a corporation out to destroy them.

Razed Phoenix is about an ex-marine reporter who meets an ex-gang member who investigate the shooting of a priest, and they end up unraveling the truth of Heaven, Hell, the death of God, the presence of Satan and how The Dark Child links them all together.

Six-Ninety is about a teenager who gets bullied at school, and ends up realizing that not only does he have the power to fight back but he, along with others around him, must weigh the powers they develop and the identities they once lived against who they are in the present. It's about the love between partners bringing about the strongest of magics and using that power responsibly.

Those three are completed (Demihuman Archives is self-published, though could use some serious tweaking), but after learning a lot from authors on Twitter, I decided to start a new book called Suburban Monarch. Starts similarly with a bullied freshman girl in high school, but I've incorporated so many other elements into it, the story really comes to life after very little actually happens.

To answer your question, I have to revert back to the old adage: "write what you know." I've thought a lot about the factors and aspects of being bullied in school, so it's a subject matter that I feel comfortable sharing insight about and writing in. But you're right, sometimes authors get a little too comfortable in just one setting and world. Never branching out can kinda water down the quality of their work in cerain genres. I mean, you can stick to science-fiction or fantasy, those are kind of umbrella terms that have a lot going on, but to JUST do vampires, or JUST do rennaissancy folk tales, or JUST do steampunk, or JUST do romance, it can absolutely positively pigeonhole an author into one thing.

Granted, if you know that one thing inside and out, it might be best to stick with what works. But as a creator, how creative do you really look just staying in the comfortable area and not delving into dangerous territory, like you want your characters to do?

Authors shouldn't emulate their characters. Authors should, at times and in some ways, lead their characters by example, ;-)

ali cross said...

LOL, why yes, I am a freak. Thank you for noticing :)

I liked your chart, btw. It's kind of twisted and OCD. I think I love you.

As for me--I think the only real similarity between the stories I write is that there's always an emotional current. Even in my MG novels, there's a need for belonging and for self-identification. But I write sci fi, fantasy and even some contemporary in both YA and MG.

I'm a bit of a chameleon--how could I expect my books to be any different?

Vicki Tremper said...

Okay, are you the most prolific writer ever?

I have 3 MG mss under my belt, all kind of paranormal, but in very different ways. 1 boy protag, 1 girl protag, and 1 brother-sister duo. And I have 2 very different YA mss. One is an issue book set in another country, and one is historical fantasy. But since I fall in love with my main characters and would love to keep writing about them, I can see writing the same types of books or characters over and over.

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