by Rob (and Guest blogger SB)
As regular readers of Murderati know, I’ve been considering leaving our wonderful little blog for some time. Well, unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately for some), the time has come for me to finally say goodbye.
I’ve enjoyed my time here, and all the insightful and often funny comments from readers and my fellow Murderati alike, and thank you all for putting up with me over the last few years. It’s been fun.
I leave you in the capable hands of Stephen Blackmoore, who is subbing for me today.
Stephen is a writer of pulp, crime and urban fantasy who occasionally lapses into talking about himself in the third person. His first novel, CITY OF THE LOST, a dark urban fantasy will be coming out from DAW Books in early 2012.
I hope you’ll all join me in welcoming him.
THERE’S A GENRE FOR THAT
Ever heard of Rule 34? “If you can imagine it, there is porn for it,” and it’s corollary, “If there isn’t someone will make it.”
Cheerleaders in glasses? Sure. Guys in monkey suits? Absolutely. Cross-dressing Shriners in latex wimples? Damn straight.
Genre’s kind of like that.
Way back in the misty days of yore (late ’80s) I read an article about books that people couldn’t really pigeonhole. They had vampires in them, but they weren’t horror novels. Or detectives, but in fantasy settings. Science fiction, but set in a future that was right around the corner.
Now we’ve got genres and sub-genres and sub-sub-genres. Everything gets a label. Cyberpunk, Steampunk, Neo-Noir, Paranormal Romance. The desperate need to identify a book’s niche is so pervasive that the labels are split ad infinitum.
I mean, NASCAR romance? Seriously?
When my first novel, CITY OF THE LOST (Out next January through DAW Books) was being shopped around I made a miscalculation. I kept thinking of it as a crime novel. Which it is.
But it also has a zombie in it, a demon in a bar that isn’t really there, a feral, psychotic midget, and a 700-year-old magician who thinks he might have figured out a way to stick around another few centuries.
Shopping this as a crime novel was, duh, not working. Nobody knew what to do with it. People liked it, but they weren’t sure how they were going to market it, where they could put it on the shelves, how to push it.
Hell, I didn’t even know how to describe it. After several lame attempts the best I could come up with was, “It’s like The Maltese Falcon meets Night of The Living Dead,” which really doesn’t cover it.
And then we got back from an editor, “Great urban fantasy novel.”
Urban fantasy is a genre that covers a lot of territory. Mystery, romance, historical. There’s some damn good stuff out there. Everything from Emma Bull‘s WAR FOR THE OAKS to Seanan McGuire‘s LATE ECLIPSES.
It’s a real world setting, more or less, but within a fantasy context. Maybe hyper-realized, maybe not. The San Francisco of LATE ECLIPSES is our San Francisco. The Seattle of Kat Richardson‘s GREYWALKER is our Seattle.
To say I was surprised was a bit of an understatement. 99% of my writing is straight crime fiction. I write about vengeful strippers with mommy issues, ethically challenged private eyes, homeless junkies.
And so I wrote CITY OF THE LOST as a pulp crime novel set in modern-day Los Angeles. I just happened to have a protagonist with a slight rotting problem.
Even though I hadn’t realized it there was already a genre for the book. You’d think, being the lifelong geek that I am, that I would have recognized it for what it is. Turns out not so much. Took me something like three months to wrap my brain around the idea that I had written a fantasy novel. I don’t have a problem with that, far from it, I just wasn’t expecting it.
Now I don’t mind my books being labeled. Otherwise how the hell would anybody find them? Urban fantasy is a great place to be.
But I don’t think I want to be labeled. I’ll keep writing about a mythical Los Angeles, and about homeless junkies and about psychotic cops who gun down kids. One of these days I’ll tackle a western (with Lovecraftian overtones), or historical (with aliens), maybe a romance… though god only knows what sort of twisted shit I’d come up with for that.
I like the idea of writing all over the place. And no matter what I write I know this, there will always be a genre for it.
And if there isn’t then goddamn it I’ll make one.