Sunday, May 15, 2011

Why I Don't Write Mainstream Paranormal Fiction (and why preggo bedrest eats your brain)

Bedrest can't be good for your brain.


You lie there and think waaaaay too much.

And everyone knows that thinking never did ANYONE any good.

I was on doctor ordered pelvic rest for the last 2 weeks, and lying there staring at the cieling fan in my bedroom created a lot of opportunity for me to ponder. Ponder, ponder, ponder.

Thinking never did anyone any good.

I have been working on my first anthology, a project that has been interrupted on and off my complications with my pregnancy, and while resting, I found myself in a pensive state (overly so), wondering about a question that has been posed to me on more than one occasion: why don't I take advantage of the trends in the literary market and write a vampire novel? Or werewolf tale? Throw joe public a bone and possibly rake in the big bucks, a la Twilight?

I can't say that I haven't stressed out over the concept--something that's a bit hard for me to admit. All creatives find themselves second-guessing their work from time to time--this is ultimately to be expected. Should I be jumping on the bandwagon? Or should I cherish the mid-sized pubbed cult status that I am earning now and forgo the commercially "right" thing to do?

After rolling this around in my brain for a while, I always find myself coming to the same conclusion: I will never be a "mainstream" fiction writer simply because I CAN'T be! It simply goes against the very grain of who I am. I look at other books in the same genre as my passion--angels and demons--and I see fellow authors falling into the same old mainstream trap. They may have the basis for a killer paranormal tale about a warrior angel, or a freaky badass demon--and then it all goes into the same old recycled pit with a swooning female love interest who is a vampire, or a recent example I stumbled on at Amazon, where the angel is leading a werewolf pack (sorry, but WTF?!)...sure, they may sell a lot more books, but I wouldn't feel right about watering my work down to please the masses. I look at my characters and their extraordinary, outside-the-mainstream adventures, where the only vampires are bullet fodder, and I feel...pleased. Fulfilled in a way that no trendy mainstream plotline under my belt could ever satisfy. Looking back, I have always been that way as a painter, too--Thomas Kincade can kiss my ass, despite all the bazillions of dollars he's raked in.

Not to say that I wouldn't LOVE to be on that NYC Bestseller list...who wouldn't? And yet I have started to think of myself, and others like me--small and mid-sized published (and good quality self-pubbed) authors whose work doesn't fit into the same old mold--as the equivalent of the "indie" bands of the music industry. Sure, they may not be attending the MTV Music Awards (a select few may eventually, but it will not be an easy road), and the teenage groupie masses may not be flinging themselves at us, but what we offer is valuable...something different. Honestly, I adored vamps and weres when I was a teenager--Anne Rice had a definite fan in me--and I can understand the attraction. But let's admit it--the genre has been done to death, and now that it's dead, publishers and their authors keep beating it with the same...stake. If I see one more teenage (or "sexy") vampire with douchebag hair or another Fabio-esque "Alpha" wolf, I'm gonna puke, and it ain't gonna be morning sickness!

So after lying in bed, brain cells wasting away with pregnancy boredom as I rest the womb in which my first offspring is merrily sprouting, I have come to the conclusion that I would not trade my outside-the-vampire-stable work for all the literary world...and I think that my little cult of fans prefer it that way.


Artwork: a prelim digital illustration of Rose, the heroine of my book Black Dog and Rebel Rose, as a "badass mama".


  1. Hi Danielle!

    I admire that you write what you love, regardless of trends. I was doing exactly the same thing when I began 7 yrs ago, before 'Twilight' and the vampire bandwagon. What I happened to love was vampires, and you know what publishers told me? That Anne Rice had done it to death! LOL, 1 pub's exact words. I didn't care and wrote it anyway - for me.

    I'd already stopped trying to publish once the hoopla started, but continued writing my series because I loved it. Eventually I put my books out Indie, for closure and to share them with people who might love them too, and I was blessed with supportive readers.

    I now reject the big publishers who want me to change my story because it's unconventional and not 'Twilight' enough. Screw 'em. I write what I love, the way I envision it. As you already know, the readers who truly get it and love your work are worth far more in an author's heart than being "on trend".

    Sorry I can't make your signing (I'm doing BEA in NYC) but best wishes!

    ~ Melanie


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