Sunday, April 10, 2016

The Author Conundrum

When I first started writing, I corked out a mystery/thriller in two months (it’ll NEVER see the light of day) that was in all intents and purposes fit for human consumption.  It had no swearing and no sex because, lets face it, I am as vanilla as it gets.  My first bit of advice on this book was from three well meaning and well known agents who said the same thing, “books written for adults will need adult content”.

In my vanilla mind, I thought that this meant a bit more action and maybe some “darn” and “dang it” thrown in.  I allow you to laugh because I was naive and I am not ashamed of it.  I scrapped the book, practiced writing a few more books which all failed miserably (four full length books to be exact).  All of which seemed to get the same exact response as my first writing attempt: More adult content.

Books six, seven and eight, I really went out on a limb and managed to put in the words “D@%$” and “S$%#” in them.  They were romances so I called up my writing buddy, told her which pages I needed a little steam in and she helped me find the words even though it made my toes curl.  Books seven and eight got picked up by a fairly reputable publisher.  This was going to be my big break!

I got some interesting notes back from the editor.  She wanted a kiss on either page 45 or 60, heavy second and third base action going on by page 100 and full on sex by page 145.  To add to that, she mentioned that I’d needed the F-word peppered into the novel because the F-word is was adults say when they’re angry.  Oh, and if I could, my characters needed to be obsessed with each other (her words, not mine).

Um…say what?

I got off the phone with the editor and called my writing buddy.  I was in a pickle.  I’d never been the kind of writer that wrote that kind of stuff and now, I was being asked to put it in.  What would happen if I said no?  What if I did put it in my books?  Then I was faced with this exact thought: What kind of writer am I?

Even though my writer buddy thought that I might be able to squeak by with minimal swearing additions and maybe a “behind closed doors” sex scene, I wasn’t so sure I could write it in, no matter how vague I was.  While still on the phone, I happened to walk past the mirror in front entranceway of my house.  Again, I was faced with a hard question as I stared myself down: What kind of writer am I?

Well, I got off the phone, called my editor and told her I don’t write in sex scenes, or heavy obsessive infatuation, or F-words.  That’s just not the kind of stuff I write.

And then I got fired.

That was the end of my contract, my book was pulled from the publishing lineup and I was once again left with no publisher and a whole lot of books going nowhere.  It was hard to be in that position.  In retrospect, it was what kicked off the brainchild for Ian Quicksilver.  It ended well, but at the time it was a little devastating.

Fast forward three years where I am in the middle of Ian Quicksilver Book #2 edits, Book #3 is complete and the outline for book #4 is getting hashed out.  It looks as if all has turned up roses.  And yet, I found myself on the phone again with my writing buddy having the same discussion about what kind of author I am.  However, this time it wasn’t my writing on the line, it was another author wanting me to endorse her books.  My buddy reminded me gently that we’d already had this discussion before.  I already knew the answer, and I knew what I had to do.

So, let me put this out there so there is no confusion in the future.  I am the author who writes for kids.  I’ll make you laugh.  Maybe I’ll make you cry too.  You’ll get action and fights and good versus evil.  My villains all tend to end up looking like and sounding as awesome as Benedict Cumberbatch (weirdly enough.  Not sure how that happened, but it did) and my heroes are a mixture of Thor, Captain America and goofy teen boy.  They don’t swear.  You’ll NEVER get a sex scene out of me and the heroines are whiplash smart. 

That is the kind of writer I am.

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