Monday, August 26, 2013

How About a Cozy Adventure?

What Certain Hypothetical might best be called

I’ve described my debut novel as a character-driven adventure story with an SF premise and light suspense – ‘cozy adventure’ says it simply.

For myself, I’ve always considered that I’m writing science fiction, because so far all my books begin with the kind of ‘what if’ idea that defines speculative fiction.  But the stories themselves focus on the characters, and those SF elements tend to be in the background – so while some readers of science fiction may enjoy my books, others may not.

Indeed, the feedback I’ve already received suggests that readers may view Certain Hypothetical more as an adventure story.  But as an adventure, it’s more in the vein of traditional novels than the more modern ‘high-octane’ fiction that’s so popular.  While there are some ‘thrills’, they’re relatively mild by today’s standards.  Combined with the optimistic tone of the book (despite the peri-apocalyptic setting) I think ‘cozy’ is an apt descriptor.

Although there is no ‘cozy adventure’ genre (not one that’s recognized, anyway) my book doesn’t fall neatly into any one genre (indeed, lots of books don't.)  Rather it dabs its toes in a number of them.

The two main characters in Certain Hypothetical are (nominally) college students finding their place in the world, so some might consider it New Adult fiction – though it wasn’t written for that audience.

The collapse of civilization might define this as ‘apocalyptic fiction’ for some, but many who like those stories may not appreciate this – because the ‘apocalypse’ happens in the background, and it moves exceedingly slow.  Hence the name of the series – Slowpocalypse.

Some may view it as a tale of suspense – but if you’re looking for a roller coaster ride that leaves you breathless, you may be disappointed.  This is a gentler ride – which brings me back to the idea of a ‘cozy’ adventure.

But really, these genres themselves are mostly the invention of publishers’ marketing departments, to sell ‘similar’ books off the success of others – so it’s not surprising to find that a lot of writers whose books fall between or across genres end up publishing independently.

Thankfully most people don’t seem to care what labels are put on books – they just want a good read.  So if I have to take a paragraph to describe what my book is like, it doesn’t matter as long as it helps potential readers decide whether or not it’s something they’ll like.

And in that vein, I freely admit it – Certain Hypothetical is not ‘high octane’ or ‘non-stop action’ – neither is it dark or gritty, there are no vampires or zombies, and it is not filled with angst.  It won’t put you through the emotional wringer, shouldn’t haunt you at the end, and you should be able to put the book down – I just try to make it interesting enough that you’ll look forward to picking it back up again.

I also hope that my stories will satisfy in the end, not leave you hanging, but contented – so that you’ll be eager to read my next book, not because you feel you have to read it, but because you know how much you’ll enjoy the experience.

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