An agent asked me at the end of last year, "Do you have any sword and sorcery?" I love sword and sorcery. Okay, I love Conan. I have extolled the greatness that is He-Man and Thundarr the Barbarian here before and they're both just rip-offs of Conan. If you say sword and sorcery, I think Robert E. Howard. I'm sure other people have written sword and sorcery. Other people than Tolkien have written epic fantasy, but unlike him, I can't tell you a single sword and sorcery author that didn't make his mark by writing pastiche Conan stories first.
And that's a problem, isn't it? Do you have any sword and sorcery? No, because I don't read sword and sorcery. I read Conan. I don't think I could write one without just telling a similar story, I said.
That's what I said, and I meant it. But dammit that agent asking for it seemed like the excuse I needed to tell the story I had been wanting to tell for so long. Fuck it. I'm going to write sword and sorcery and readers will see the influences and that's okay. Hell, John Scalzi went so far as to mention STARSHIP TROOPERS at the end of OLD MAN'S WAR (of which the ties become very obvious a third of the way into the story). I can do the same. It'll be okay.
So here we go, miss agent. I'm writing you a Conan story.
Wait, why is my protagonist a 20-year-old woman? How did that happen? Where's Conan? This is a Conan story. What are you doing here, lady? Oh, you want to be the main character? Okay, I guess that's fine. I don't usually write females as main characters. It's not a matter of gender, just a matter of the stories I choose to tell. Klara was supposed to be my first female main character, but that's the second book of a trilogy that isn't being published. She's like Hilary Clinton and you're like Elizabeth Warren. I've been assuming Klara was going to be first for so long that I didn't notice Amelia just walking up and saying, "This is my story."
But hey, my Conan story has turned into an Amelia story, and that's pretty cool. I think it'll be better for it. I still have a Conan-esque character (and an Ookla-esque character for that matter, if the reference makes sense to you), but they're there to further Amelia's story. Oh, and sorcery and lasers and radiation and a post-cataclysm world. Let's rock this thing.
I don't usually love a story this much this early in the draft. I hope that's a good sign.