January 6, 2012

Transcending Genre

I'm not a huge Neil Gaiman fan. I do not dislike him, but in the scale of fandom that belongs to him, most everyone I know falls into the "I would give him a kidney if he asked for it" category, and I'm not there. Not all his stories resonate with me. And while my wife owns all his books, and I am thus at my liberty to try them all, I tend not to finish most I start.

The exception to this is Neverwhere. I love me some Neverwhere. I love it so much because if I was going to write that story, I would write it pretty much just the same. (That's big praise from me because I write the stories I want to read, thus he's doing all the work for me and I can sit back and relax as a reader unconcerned with being the writer.) I used a rarely used word today to fit into Twitter's 140-character limit, elseways. It reminded me of Neverwas (a good movie, check it out) which sent me on to Neverwhere.

I would love to write a book named Elseways, but I think if I did, it would end up being a lot like Neverwhere. That got me thinking on what kind of story I would write for Elseways. I bounce around within fantasy a lot: traditional, pre-steampunk, post-apocalyptic pulp, sword and sorcery, epic, contemporary. The one I never write on is urban. Urban is not my cup of tea. And too often, people use urban when they really mean contemporary. Urban fantasy deals with worlds within worlds, most often fairies, vampires, and/or werewolves, but regardless, it includes a Venn diagram of a world laying on top of our own that of which the average citizen is unaware.

Neverwhere is Urban Fantasy. But because Urban Fantasy is not my cup of tea, I balked at it and thought to myself, really, isn't it more contemporary? That was an unfounded claim because clearly there is a Venn diagram of worlds going on, which is the requirement I just put forth. So what's the problem? Well, so much urban fantasy is about fairies, vampires, and/or werewolves that something like Neverwhere just seems like a high-quality contemporary fantasy. And I'm really loving contemporary fantasy right now. Thus, I want this book I like to fall into a genre I like. Logic be damned!

I think if I were to ever write an urban fantasy, it would be Elseways. That's a title that could get me over that hump. The real goal wouldn't be to write in a subgenre that isn't tea, but to write a book that isn't Neverwhere. I already associate them and I just came up with the damn title. That's not a very good sign.

That and I don't actually have a story. But I have a title now, so dibs. I call dibs. Go find your own title.

(And happy new year.)

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