“OH! You wrote a book! That’s so great, what’s it called?”
“Shadowmark,” I say.
“That sounds interesting,” they say, “what’s it about?”
“It’s about three people caught up in an alien invasion.”
“…oh, well, that sounds…nice.”
Ever have those moments when you know someone is trying to be kind, but they’re looking at you with a weird eye and hoping to escape from the conversation they’ve just realized they’re having?
Yep. Me, too.
When it comes to discussing my novel, I’m no stranger to conversations exactly like this! When I tell friends, family, and acquaintances the basic premise of Shadowmark, I can see the thought-wheels turning in their heads:
Oh. Aliens. I won’t like that. Okay, just smile and nod…
(And if you’re reading this and we had a similar conversation, I’m not making fun of you–promise! But I knew what you were thinking!)
Ha! Now, since publishing Shadowmark, I’ve polished my line a bit. Currently, I try to say something more like: “It’s about a woman who survives an alien invasion. Then she meets a mysterious man who saves her life, and she ends up sticking with him because she doesn’t know how to survive on her own. But it’s a problem for her because she’s ashamed that she can’t take care of herself.”
Finding the right niche for my book has been tricky for me, partly because of what I set out to do when I wrote it. Shadowmark is science fiction, but it’s not hard science fiction. And for a reason. I suspect that many people who hear “sci-fi” suddenly think of pages and pages of technical details, explanations, otherworldly creatures, and the like.
Don’t get me wrong, I love sci-fi myself, but I also love other genres. And before I wrote Shadowmark, I searched in vain for a book like I wanted to read. A pleasant mixture of several genres: action, mystery (but not crime–that’s not really my thing), a little romance, set in a not-quite-normal world. Really, my favorite books have the same recurring themes: good and evil, love and grief, loyalty and betrayal, searches for power, self-sacrifice. My original intent was to write a book that included themes I wanted to read about, and that wasn’t written exclusively for sci-fi fans.
“My original intent was to write a book that included themes I wanted to read about, and that wasn’t written exclusively for sci-fi fans.”
Based on what happy readers have told me so far, I think I’ve achieved that.
My goal is to entertain, not to impress people with the science I know. Okay, that’s not what I think those authors do. Obviously, there’s a place for that kind of thing (The Martian, anybody?). And I would never poo-poo it, because I enjoy those types of novels myself.
It’s just not what I want to write. I want to focus more on themes than genres.
In other words, even if you don’t think the story of an alien invasion is for you, you might be surprised. Shadowmark is so much more than that! And if you liked the first one, you’ll LOVE the second . . . But no, no, back to the topic.
I’m going to do a blog series on the books, authors, and themes that have influenced my own writing. Topics like those mentioned above, and others. So keep checking back. Or, if you’re lazy like me and don’t want to keep checking for an update, sign up for my newsletter. I’ll send the posts straight to you.
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