Tuesday, 13 December 2011

L is for Lycanthropy

Every other book that gets published seems to be about wolves. Or fairies, vampires, trolls, dragons, angels, ghosts... Sometimes I feel very dull for sticking to relationships between ordinary humans.

Relationship novels are also taking a hit, apparently, with sales dropping dramatically recently so sometimes I feel very stupid for sticking to writing about relationships.

Dull and stupid, yup, that's me.

If I was really clever I'd be writing about - well, obviously anything that I'm not writing about at the moment. There seems to be a flurry about the Holy Grail/Mary Magdalene/Freemasonry every ten years or so, so I'm sure that the fashion is about to come round again. Werewolves who are freemasons? That can only be killed with splinters from the True Cross piercing their heart? That sounds quite cool.

Truth is, I write about relationships because they interest me. I don't write about werewolves because they don't. If my genre goes out of fashion - and there's no special reason why my genre should be an exception - then I have to adapt to that and write to my other interests.

What I can't do, and shouldn't do, is write because I think something is currently fashionable. That would be daft. Firstly, my heart wouldn't be in it, so the writing wouldn't work. Faking it makes for awkward, poor quality writing.

Secondly, if I started to write a novel now, I wouldn't get it done for 6-12 months. Getting a deal in a new genre might take another 6 months. Then getting the book onto the shelves would be at least a year. Okay, if I went for e-publishing the lead times would drop, but there's still the time taken for me to write the novel and by that time the fashion would have moved on.

Thirdly, I believe that while fashions come and go, people will always want to read about other people. I think relationship novels will be around for ever, even though they may not be packaged by publishers as such. And if I plod away with my books, with luck I'll still be there when the fashion comes round again. L may be for Lycanthropy, but it's also for Longevity.


Sally Zigmond said...

Dull and stupid...count me in, Sarah. To me, writing and reading fiction is all about how human beings relate to each other.

Jim Murdoch said...

Preaching to the choir, girl. Just be grateful you're not a literary novelist.

Sarah Duncan said...

Amen to that Sally.

Ah Jim, but that has its turn in the spotlight, just like everything else.

Philip C James said...

Brilliant choice, Sarah, so much better that you wrote about a subject that interests you and energises your writing rather than try to address suggestions from others.

"Dull and Stupid"? Time for a rare James compliment.

I am constantly amazed by your ability to balance the needs of your children, your partner, your editor, your agent, your publisher, your students and we distance learners who appreciate the educational, thought-provoking, and humorous nature of your posts, and still find time to write. It must be wearing because you do not be feeling the need to describe yourself as "dull and boring".

I guess it's difficult because it's so easy to satisfy the immediate needs of those around you and forget there are future readers of your book and fans of your previous work whose satisfaction depends on a longer term objective.

If you had an eye on the main chance and wrote to satisfy a fashionable market then you may well become dull and boring because you would be unable to talk about anything except money and because you were trying to write to a template that doesn't engage you.

And to support that, IMO the current crop of lycanthropic writers are not a patch on Angela Carter.

On doctor's advice, take two glasses of white wine and one Clerihew and get some 'me' time.

Sarah Duncan
Writer for the new man
Rodney's posh totty
Leading RNA hottie

Sarah Duncan said...

Ooh, Phil, I'm blushing. And agree with you about Angela Carter.