Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Writing and Reading out of Love

Each month the RT editors select one book that is not only compelling, but pushes the boundaries of genre fiction. This book stands out from all the others reviewed that month, in the magazine issue and on the website. June 2014's RT Seal of Excellence — the editors' pick for best book of the month — is awarded to Jeffe Kennedy's fantasy romance, The Mark of the Tala.
July started off with a bang for me, with this amazing choice by RT Book Reviews to select The Mark of the Tala for their June Seal of Excellence. It's particularly gratifying to me, that this book was picked because it pushes genre boundaries.

All of us here at Paranormal Romantics have experienced the ups and downs of the paranormal marketplace. These days we're told that paranormal romance is a dead genre and don't even think the word "vampire." And yet, we know readers are still hungry for it. Hell - WE are hungry for it.

The problem is nobody's entirely sure what they're hungry for.

When a genre becomes "hot," like paranormal romance and urban fantasy did, you can watch a very predictable curve in the marketplace. A book or several books hit big - like Twilight - and create tremendous interest. We read those books and want more like that. The editors buy them up, because the editors are buying - and because they're inspired by the books they're reading - writers write more like that. The shelves get flooded and, like a hit song overplayed on the radio, soon we're sick of the whole thing. We'll turn off the radio before we have to hear that song one more time.

Except, we still want music. Even that kind of music.

I think this is why it's important to remember to write what we want to, not for the market. I got really lucky with this Twelve Kingdoms trilogy, because the books just happen to be coming out at a time where there's an upsurge of interest in fantasy. To some extent, I thought this could happen. I had already written the book that became The Mark of the Tala when I attended a conference two years ago. At the TOR/Forge spotlight, I asked the panel of editors if they thought Game of Thrones being on HBO would create interest in more fantasy of that type. The gals exchanged bemused glances and said, well, maybe? And one explained that, to them and anyone else in SFF publishing, George RR Martin's series was old news. It was a funny moment, watching them process that this would not be true for all those TV watchers discovering this kind of story for the first time.

However, if I'd decided then and there to write my book, I would have missed this particular moment. My agent sold it a few months later and it just came out. That's where the luck comes in.

But I wrote in the first place out of love - and that's the key.


Diane Burton said...

Congrats, Jeffe, on RT's Seal of Excellence!

I agree about not following trends but writing what you love. You can never "catch" the trend.

Best wishes.

Diane Burton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeffe Kennedy said...

Thanks Diane! SO true about that never-ending chase!