More than a place--it's a writer's muse.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Authors Behaving Badly: A Little Author-on-Author Crime

We're getting into conference and convention season here and I recently listened to a panel of YA and MG authors talking about their books and their writing experiences--you know, stuff I subject my blog followers to on a semi-regular basis. ;-)

Everything was going along smoothly (a little discussion about how hard being an author can be--which I think is a good reality check from time to time) until one author turned to another and grinned, saying, "I guess we all could've made a bunch more money if we'd just written paranormals. Just add a vampire!" Everyone chuckled.

Except me.

My right eyebrow raised. But I kept my mouth shut. What the author's words didn't convey her tone and delivery did. That writing paranormals is somehow far easier and more lucrative than writing straight fiction or non-fiction.

It's the same attitude I've heard adult fiction and non-fiction authors use toward YA and MG authors (and picture book authors--oh, boy!). Like whatever they do is so much more difficult because they have adult readers (let's not dare point out that many adults never progress in reading level beyond eighth grade so it's not heavy vocabulary we fail to use that they're weilding). And, I'll be honest--condensing a story down to a picture book level that still conveys to an artist how they might best illustrate that kernel--that's skill.

But this is typical of every career path and job. Whatever I'm doing has got to be harder than what you're doing, right? Blech! And surely those paranormal authors are just tacking paranormal or supernatural aspects onto what could otherwise be a decent fiction read--just to make more money, right? Building worlds? Ha!

This, is obviously one of my literary peeves. I value all authors. We all struggle to dump the contents of our brains onto a page in some coherent form. We all delve into worlds other than our own to build interesting books. So a little respect? I think we've all earned it regardless of genre or target audience.

What do you all think? Have you also heard or read stuff like this? Have you heard any author say something nasty or belittling about any other genre? Am I the only one who thinks it hurts our entire profession?
PS--As a result of the panel's conversation I started wondering if I should leave one story I'm researching as straight non-fiction. I even argued it back and forth with my brother and my husband. I have since made up my mind about that particular tale's genre. Paranormal, baby!


Jennifer L Hart said...

What is that old saying about walking a mile in another person's shoes?

I'm sure there are plenty of authors out there writing paranormal that are not raking in the dough, not because of anything to do with their stories but more because there's plenty of been there, done that, got the T-shirt surrounding paranormal novels right now.

When I did NaNoWriMo last year I fully intended to do a paranormal, and guess what, I couldn't! I love the genre, but I have no idea how to add something fresh to it. So I ended up with a space prince instead o a demon or vamp or werewolf.
I'll leave those to the pros who know what they're doing. Like you divas ;-)

Shannon Delany said...


The whole reason I don't think I'll ever do a vamp story is because I don't think I'd have anything to add to that mythos at this point--so I totally understand avoiding certain topics and characters.

And I sorta expect certain genre prejudices (writing romance we hear A LOT of them) but I don't expect it in a public forum FOR writers, I guess. Or as part of a panel. Oy.

Thanks for adding your thoughts--yep--a mile in another person's shoes makes all the difference.

Take care!

Robin said...

We all recognize that paranormal fiction is NOT a new genre, right? I mean, it first burst into critical fame during the late eighteenth century. I would have found it hard not to have dropped that kernel of info to those people that think it's the vamps that sell the books. Traditional is out, baby. It's dark and gritty and disturbing--kind of like the paranormal comics that were popular in the 1980's. Hold on here, I see a pattern.

Exactly. A pattern. Wanna know what will be popular again in romance fiction? I'm betting my two cents (cause that's all I have) that the civil war epic novels that were so popular in the late '70s early '80s are going to pop back into the forefront. Historicals are the next step for the year 2015. That's the way the romance wave rolls.

So, let's think of a new twist to that. We'll be raking in the dough by 2025!

Casse AKA Catholic Kittie said...

Heck yea, Paranormal baby. I would like to see them try just *inserting* vamps or wolves at random. Then I want to see them selling it to us paranormal readers and having us buy into it. You have to make them realistic but NEW. Most para-haters don't realize how hard that is to do this and not be cliche.

I recently told a fellow aspiring writer from my Church who "never has liked" Paranormal or Urban Fantasy, that as I see it now, I will always be a paranormal writer and reader. She looked at me all superior so I added "Hey its good enough for the BIBLE!" She stammered, "Wha-what?!" "It's filled with people rising from the dead, ZOMBIES- hello if that ain't paranormal!" She huffed off, I guess I won? ;-)

Jaleta Clegg said...

I love your post. I think you're exactly right. Belittling other genres hurts not only the public perception of authors, but the author's reputation. I may not like someone's book or dislike the entire genre, but I respect the work and effort it took to write it.

I write and publish science fiction space opera romance, which gets belittled by just about everyone. I also do comic horror short stories, another belittle genre. I think I just like rocking the boat.

And everything is better with zombies, not vampires. It's a known fact. So throw some zombies into your next historical romance and you'll make lots of money!

Lemur said...

Good post. I agree that it's sad to see writers making fun of other genres.

Writing a good paranormal is just as challenging if not more so, than writing "normals." You have to make rules for your stories that are fresh, interesting and consistent within the story. Not always easily done. Like many others, I've read brilliant paras and absolute dreck (obviously the folks "just inserting" a vampire).

And a good YA can be as powerful and compelling as any adult novel - and not necessarily easy to write.

LOL I'm actually working on a paranormal YA. But I didn't do it because I was hoping for more money, just because it's the story that wants to come out right now.

The CRITTER Project and Naked Without a Pen

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