Happy New Year! I admit to having rather high hopes for 2014. First of all, for those who are still unaware, my husband and I are expecting a baby sometime around the end of January. And yes, in spite of my less-than-pleased reactions to unwanted belly-touching and overly personal questions from near-strangers, i am extremely excited about this. Secondly, yesterday evening I completed the manuscript for By Water and Blood! Huzzah! Now on to the editing, formatting, etc. My goal was at least to have the story finished before the baby arrived. Writing pregnant is a weird experience for various reasons, mostly involving concentration, but I fancy writing with a brand new mini-person might be even trickier...just a guess.
So one of the major issues I'm confronting now is the question of genre. It may seem backward, but I never start out writing a book saying, "I'm going to write a fantasy novel" or, "I'm going to write a mystery" and I try to avoid the words "chick-lit" and "paranormal erotica" altogether. Nothing against the people who write those things, they're just not so much my things. Silly or not, I feel more freedom in my writing if I don't categorize it from the beginning but give it the freedom to become what it is going to be in its own time.
In Through the Looking Glass, Alice is put in charge of cutting the cake after the fight between the lion and the unicorn. She tries to cut it into slices, but the slices always join on again. This, we find out, is because the cake is looking-glass cake, and therefore backwards. When she hands the cake around first and cuts it after, it works like a charm, dividing itself into the perfect number of pieces, although Alice is left with the empty platter and no cake for herself. I always feel that is how the genre thing ought to work. As the story unfolds it should show you what it is, rather than you calling it something first and then checking the boxes as you go to make sure it fits the requirements. Also, it's my birthday today, so apparently I have cake-brain.
Of course, the downside to this method is that I then end up with a finished piece of work that I have no idea how to categorize. Ashford and Violet Shadows, as clearly historical works, were fairly simple in that respect. By Water and Blood, however, is a different matter entirely, and refuses to fit nicely in any box I try to put it in, thus resulting in strange dilemmas, for I must call it something. It has elements of mystery, but it is not a "mystery novel". It involves the paranormal, but is not populated with an endless string of vampires or werewolves or demi-gods as one might expect of a "paranormal" novel. It has its romantic moments, but is certainly not a "romance" and it goes to some (for me at least) very dark places, but certainly would not qualify as "horror" or "thriller". The closest I can come to an apt description is to call it "contemporary fiction with paranormal elements," but...there really isn't a genre for that.
So...we'll see what happens.
Wishing you all an amazing 2014!
Oh, and P.S...or the blogging equivalent: January is Human Trafficking Awareness month. Among the other elements listed above as being part of By Water and Blood, I also delved into human trafficking as part of my research, and it has become a truly important issue to me. A portion of the proceeds from my launch week for By Water and Blood will be donated to an organization called Shared Hope International, based in Vancouver, Washington. Their mission is to end human trafficking, particularly the sex trafficking of minors, in the US and around the world. They provide safe housing and job training for victims, and they work on raising awareness and educating communities to recognize the signs of trafficking. Go look them up. I command it.