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Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Who would you rather hang out with:
Clark Kent or Superman?
Peter Parker or Spider-Man?
Bruce Wayne or Batman?

With the exception of that last one, I'd always go with the superhuman. (A billionaire's party beats brooding in a bat-cave any day.) Why? They're just more fun! They get to do things that ordinary people don't, or can't. Even though each of them is fully capable of handling himself in a fight, his alter-ego/public identity is often as mild and vulnerable as the meekest of us. What does this have to do with books you ask?

Well, let me ask this:
Would you read a book by Stephenie Meyer that had nothing to do with vampires?
How about a Stephen King book about baseball?
Or a football story by John Grisham?
Maybe you'd read J.K. Rowling's next project even if it had nothing to do with Harry Potter?

My point is that most famous authors are known for a specific character or series or genre. Is it that they have no interest in writing different types of stories? Is it that the authors are most comfortable in that given style? Is it that the publishers/readers would refuse to step outside what they perceive is the author's identity?

One benefit an unpublished author (such as myself) has over the big names is that we can experiment. We can find what style and genre and length of story works for us. Someone who starts off writing literary poetry can end up cranking out kid's picture books or nonfiction how-to's, or vice versa.

The difficulty is in knowing when you've hit your stride. Was my first foray into writing, a YA fantasy similar to Harry Potter, the style I'll end up in? Was my second novel, an adult horror story, more my calling? Or will I find a home in YA sci-fi, as with my current project?

And in this day and age of e-reading and e-publishing, is it necessary to limit one's self to a particular series or genre or style? I appreciate Stephen King's novels, but I absolutely love his short story collections and The Green Mile series. I wasn't a fan of Meyer's "Twilight" series, but tried "The Host" just to see if it was better (it wasn't, in my opinion). I'd read anything ever written by Rowling, literally anything.

In other words, I'm still searching for my identity. But along the way, I'm enjoying the freedom of playing around in a variety of different worlds. Here, sea monsters are as real as abusive parents, time control is as possible and effortless as wireless communication and elves, orcs and dwarves party up right alongside aliens and cyborgs.

Is there really anything better than that?


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