If you know me and my work or have been a regular reader of this blog then you know I've written four hardboiled crime novels for Bantam Dell. And you also probably know I've recently switched gears a bit, signing on with Simon & Schuster for a couple of novels that are a bit ... different.
I was contacted by the good folks at Touchstone (the S&S imprint publishing my stuff) who said they were starting to talk about GO-GO GIRLS OF THE APOCALYPSE in-house and getting excited about various ideas to market the book. (I even contributed a good idea myself which was fairly well-received. Stay tuned.) It was the sort of phone call an author wants to get from his/her publisher. Lots of positive enthusiasm about my work and how the team was going to spread my name hither and yon among readers of the world.
One little surprise during the conversation: Touchstone plans to market the book as Science Fiction.
Cool. I am a huge science fiction/Fantasy fan, loving such authors as Nancy Kress, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, Mike Resnick, Dave Duncan, Richard K. Morgan, John Scalzi, Lawrence Watt-Evans ... the list goes on. And a story set in a post-apocalyptic America? Sure. That's a no-brainer. Why wouldn't it go on the Science Fiction shelf of Borders and B&N? In a way, it feels cool to come full circle. I started off writing science fiction/fantasy/horror short stories, and, although I published a few things, I was really getting nowhere fast, not really hitting my stride until I penned a few things in the crime genre. So it's cool. I'm finally starting the science fiction career I always wanted, and I'm stoked about it.
And yet ...
Expectations are everything, aren't they? And I'd developed some different expectations. When we all first started talking about GO-GO, the name Christopher Moore came up a lot (I highly suggest everyone get a copy of Lamb.). I'm a huge fan of Moore's work, and while he uses a number of fantastical/supernatural elements in his work, the books are sold as mainstream. This was sort of how we were going to approach selling GO-GO. The science fiction elements in the book are strong, but I think the satirical elements are dominant. But Touchstone saw opportunities to reach a science fiction audience, and I very much support any campaign that gets my work to the readers who will appreciate it the most.
Kurt Vonnegut (another book-writing hero of mine) said he wanted to stay out of the science fiction file drawer because critics too often mistook this drawer for a urinal. I'm not inviting the tired lit-snob vs. genre debate. I don't have the energy for it. All I'm saying is that I'm wondering. Wondering what's going to happen as I tackle a brave new genre. Will my crime readers follow me to new places? Will the science fiction community welcome me? I sort of feel like a rookie all over again.
I'm eager. I look forward to meeting different folks at science-fiction conventions, new authors. It's all out there waiting, and I plan to jump in with both feet.
Here's what's not different: What I write and the way I write it. When I wrote crime novels, I never sat down and said to myself "Crime novels are supposed to look like this." No. I wrote the story I wanted to write regardless of genre conventions or formulas. Same goes for science fiction or any other genre. I'm going to write the sort if thing I'd want to read. I'm going to hope others like it. We'll see what happens.
I hope I can get you guys to come along for the ride.
(p.s. This doesn't mean the crime genre is over for me. I always have a little something brewing there too.)