Saturday, 4 February 2012

No, my book is not like Twilight...

It's taken some time for me to feel justified in telling anyone that I'm an author when they ask what I do. Even once I'd signed the contract for Keir, the fact that it wasn't due out for almost a year made me hold back on awarding myself the 'title'. But now, with the galley to check through and most of my virtual book tour organized, the reality has sunk in that I am, indeed, a bona fide author. The title no longer has a squeak in it. :-)

So, when I was asked what I do at a ladies' pamper evening last night, I said, "I'm an author."
"Oh, what do you write?"
"Science fiction romance."
"What, like Twilight?"
Shocked silence. "No, more like Star Trek or Star Wars."

Now, I personally have nothing against Twilight. I've seen a heck of a lot of debate on-line about the books and the films. They seem to be very controversial. But I've neither read them nor watched them, and so make no judgement on them either way. I haven't been interested enough to try them myself - my interest in vampires centred on 'Interview with the Vampire' and the books of Anne Rice. Since then I've had no inclination either way. (Although a friend sent me a set of True Blood books as a gift. Yes, I've read them. Yes, I enjoyed them, until it seemed like Sookie was spending all her time whinging about all these handsome supernatural guys chasing after her. No, I wouldn't say I'm a fan, but I didn't hate them either.) But I digress...

What bothered me was the fact that the person I spoke to had no idea what science fiction was, let alone scifirom. Now, I know that science fiction and fantasy are often seen as niche genres, and some kind of poor relation in literary terms. I've never understood that. I've always read speculative fiction. Perhaps because my parents were fans - Star Trek and Doctor Who were watched on a regular basis. They didn't have a lot of scifi books in the house, but as soon as I was judged old enough to jump on a bus by myself, I made regular trips to the book shops to buy fantasy and scifi titles of my own. I spent my teenage years reading Anne McCaffrey, Robert Heinlein, Arthur C.Clarke, David Eddings, Terry Brooks, Tolkien ... the list is endless. So it always comes as a shock to me when someone doesn't know what scifi is.

To say that it was sobering is an understatement. I don't expect people to be impressed that I'm an author. I'm hardly a best-seller. I'm not on the shelves of Waterstones. I haven't had block-busting films made from my stories. And I am not complaining about that. Even if I never have another book contracted, I am so proud of myself for doing it once. It's been the thrill of my life so far. But clearly there's a lot of work still needs to be done to make readers aware of the genre of sfr.

So, no, my book isn't like Twilight. And it's never going to be.

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