Thursday, 6 August 2015

The Problems with being published

With Los Bros Hernandez of ‘Love and Rockets’ notoriety as my inspiration, using their parallel worlds of ‘Palomar’ and ‘Mechanics’ as my template, I then poured equal amounts of Kyril Bonfiglioli, Jilly Cooper, Hergé, a dash of Fred Vargas, oh, and a bit of Mervyn Peake, into my Fekenham mix. It all seemed perfectly natural to me. The trouble is, when presenting my work to a publisher or agent, it neither appears literary or marketable.
With stories that feature romance, adventure, crime thriller, bawdy humour along with occasional splashes of erotica, sometimes all at the same time, it all becomes hard if not impossible to categorise. This leaves marketing bods scratching their crusts.

“Let’s call it fantasy!” They say.
“But there are no dragons, no magic.”

“Magic realism then?”
Er, hang on, isn’t that a term dreamed up by those ashamed or embarrassed to call it what it is – fantasy?

Am I guilty of being wilful here? You know, by writing something so deliberately out-of-step with the rest of fiction? The truth is I really don’t see it that way and certainly didn’t set out to do that. My only intent was to write, to create a fictionalised village wherein odd people live leading somewhat absurd lives. Put another way…The Village Tales of Fekenham Swarberry are like a hydraulically driven wagon, hissing steam, rattling down cobbled streets at unbidden speeds , clunking along as if directionless passing rows of garishly coloured cottages housing unlikely people engaged in improbable conversations having impossible adventures.
In an attempt to invent a suitable genre into which my work could easily fit I came up with Amatory Absurd, a non sequitur if ever there was one. It seemed strikingly accurate if not a little pretentious of me to self-name my own creation but there you have it. It really is Mills and Boon with a twist; Mills and Boon for the modern man or Ms as long as that modern couple appreciate fiction of the oddball variety.

The problem these days is not finding a publisher but finding one with the courage to accept and take on something other than celebrity biographies or tried and tested formulaic novels. Taking risks on wannabe authors unwilling to tow the corporate line or, as in my case, unable, is an unthinkable crime. Gone are the days of finding the writer, publishing his/her work then watching that talent blossom. Let’s be honest it is a bit risky. But blossom my work does. It does not stand still for it takes risks. It grows from the first book into a series, limited by the fictional events that take place, that ventures down avenues both weird and wonderful.
Being a risk taker myself I see no risk in what I write. The fact that so many people first read my work on a blog, thousands, in fact, lays testament to at least the possibility of their popularity but then again it’s not my money I am forking out.

I have convinced myself now that I am to lead a solitary writer’s life, not unlike that of H.P.Lovecraft, an author who was only ever read in marginalized, cult publications before, years after his death, gaining not only notoriety but some form of acclaim. One day, long after my clogs are popped, maybe then I shall be read and much loved. We shall see. Well, I won't but you might.
Perhaps in years to come my grandchildren, whilst rooting around my old cupboards and shelves, will unearth all the paraphernalia I have kept; the stories, artwork and copyrights, and read what has been written before declaring 'this isn't half bad' whereupon they might make some money from my endeavours.

For now, I shall plow on ferreting away on yet another book; one that no doubt may see the light of day on some blog or some off the wall magazine or perhaps, thirty years from now, be published courtesy of my grandchildren.

Russell Cuts the Corn From The Brewers Whiskers.

1 comment:

Cara H said...

Sadly, (or not) the most wonderful stuff often is not marketable to the masses.
I tried to write some sort of Twilight clone, but I honestly couldn't bring myself to do it. It felt utterly inauthentic. I actually have an easier time writing porn than romance, although my porn tends to become too intellectual, so it's not marketable either.
The stories I really like to write do contain romantic elements, but I can't write the romance for the sake of romance type stuff.
I enjoy the Village Tales myself. I do wish there was a market for them. You certainly deserve a financial break!
I self-published two books, neither of which sold very well. I spent thousands of dollars doing it. I can't afford to do that kind of thing at this juncture.

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