It’s time for another BlogHop, with #OpenBook. Here’s this week’s prompt.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Hopefully, what readers want is originality; or at least a different way of looking at a familiar subject.
Personally, I think you have to have a combination of both. It’s possibly easier for an Indie author to write original work. Indies are blessed with a lot of freedom; because we haven’t got an agent or publishing house breathing down our neck about writing to trend or fulfilling a deal, we can write what we want. In general, there is nobody demanding changes to fit their perception of the market.
Within my own genre, speculative fiction;
there are a lot of ideas that have yet to be explored, so even though you might have a connection to other work, you don’t need to be formulaic. And there’s always a chance of crossing genres, producing work that marries different ideas, like solving crime in space or topical issues of power and corruption in a Steampunk adventure.
I like to start my reader off in a place they feel comfortable with. It could be a hotel room, on a journey or by walking my characters into a familiar setting. Even though I might be talking about the future, or an alternative now, there will still be things in those worlds that we recognise. And situations that they will have experienced, or at last have knowledge of.
I work on the theory that, that if I can get the reader nodding as they turn the pages, they are empathising with the situation. When they are relaxed, I can hit them with the big WOW!!! moment and start to weave my own narrative. At that point, they are more likely to follow along for the ride and see where we end up.
I write in three distinct styles,
or sub-genres of speculative fiction, which also gives me the chance to experiment, strangely my biggest success has come from a project that was never intended to be more than a gentle parody, a different take on the familiar.
I noticed a large number of books about people who, for various reasons, moved to the coast and opened a café on the beach (or similar). As an experiment, I wrote a short tongue-in-cheek story about a lady called Andorra Pett, who was dumped by her boyfriend. Instead of the coast, she moved to a space station orbiting Saturn. She still opened a café though. I showed it to my editor who loved it and suggested that it was just different enough to warrant expanding to a full novel.
From that moment, I started getting ideas for adventures that Andorra could have. The fusing of sci-fi with the whole wronged in love and finding yourself theme has so far led to three novels, a short story and several works in development. They’re a cross between Sci-fi and cozy mystery, with a dash of humour. As I said, it’s my most successful series and has gained remarks like these,
This is about as different as it gets in terms of sci/fi murder mystery sleuthing. For a start it is set on Saturn in a café frequented by miners, with lots of gossip and dodgy goings on and a body hidden in a freezer. It is imaginative and I like imaginative! The author himself has described it as an ‘Agatha Raisin in space.’
I wouldn’t consider myself a sci-fi fan, but I so enjoyed this book maybe I am?
This is a fresh take on the cosy mystery café genre and it really worked.
An excellent read containing an imaginative mix of genres that I had never considered before.
In terms of compliments for originality,
the best review I ever had was for my dual-time adventure Life and Other Dreams, where it initially appears that a man dreams of living a different life in the future. All very ordinary, until his dream life starts to invade his reality. We start to wonder if the dream is the reality, or could they both be real?
The full review is at https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/customer-reviews/R2ZCYN15Q47HIJ, this is the relevant part.
It’s a book you think about long after it’s finished and one that truly belongs in the upper echelon of sci-fi, surpassing much of what has come before. It creates its own identity which is an amazing thing. It’s rare for a book to feel as fresh and new as this. I wondered partway through if it would be similar to ‘We Can Remember It for You Wholesale’ by Philip K Dick (which was later turned into the film Total Recall) but no. It went its own path and one that I’d say works better than that of Dick’s story. I like the fact that no proper comparison can be drawn, as nowadays there seem to be so many similar books with the same themes and plot devices. It is really nice to have an author write what they want and not just pander to what performs the best in the charts.
I loved the part that I’ve highlighted,
it showed me that, although I might not sell books in large quantities, I have created something that resonated. I’ve been original AND I’ve given the reader what they wanted.
So, to sum up, originality is important and worth pursuing. It can come from the most unlikely source and, while it may not always be popular with the mainstream; who knows, you could be starting your own trend.
Give the readers what they want and one day, people might be copying you.
I’ll be back on Thursday, with another Indie Showcase. Please leave a comment below, then go and investigate all the other great blogs on the hop.