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Posts Tagged ‘Dreams of the Desert Wind’

Kurt R.A. Giambastiani

I’m always curious, when readers leave comments about my books, as to which of my novels is their favorite and why.

The answers are always varied. Sometimes it’s the subject matter, the period, or the setting. For others, it’s the characters who populate the pages. Occasionally, it’s just je ne sais quoi, that certain “something” that resonates with a particular reader.

Recently, though, the question was turned around; someone asked me what my favorite was. (more…)

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A Sixty-Fourth NoteBefore I started to write, I studied music. Classical music, ancient music, and modern; in orchestras (symphonic, chamber, and pit), in bands (marching, symphonic, jazz, and swing), and in trios, quartets, and quintets; as a student, as an amateur, and as a professional; as a violinist, a violist, on the tuba (Sousaphone and miraphone), with bass guitar, on percussion, and as a conductor: I did it all. For the first three decades of my life, music was my sole creative outlet.

When I swapped music for writing, music did not disappear. I brought it with me.

The world is filled with distractions, and it can be a challenge to block them all out so I can concentrate on the world inside my head. Music helps me do that.

Each of my books has a soundtrack. Sometimes it’s related to the subject, building an ethnic backdrop (like the Arabic pop music I played while writing Dreams…) but more often it’s completely unrelated, just providing the beat, the drive, and the mood (like all the Symphonic Metal music I’ve been listening to while writing FC:V). I specifically ignore lyrics—I was never good at picking them out, anyway, so ignoring them works fine. Foreign language and instrumental works are especially well-suited, and movie soundtracks are often the perfect choice, evoking a mood and drama.

k

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Obey the Kitty!Are there “rules” for genre fiction?

I’ve been called out by die-hard Alternate History readers for having “broken the rules” of the genre with my Fallen Cloud Saga. Charges that I “changed too much” or that “that’s not the way it was back then” were among the most common complaints. In response, I can only shrug. There are rules? I didn’t get any rulebook. What part of “alternate world history” is confusing these people?

When I sat down to outline the The Year the Cloud Fell (FC:I), I didn’t check to see what genre label it would sport. I had an idea, I worked on it, and I wrote the story I wanted to tell. My standalone novels, Dreams of the Desert Wind and Unraveling Time, are also good examples. Each one of those books blends elements of several genres: suspense, thriller, romance, time travel, adventure, historical fiction, etc. But I never set out to write a genre-bender. I set out to write a novel.

That’s because “genre,” as it’s used today, has nothing to do with writing, but it has everything to do with marketing.

Publishers want to make money; I can’t blame them for that, but in order to ensure the best return on their investment, they want to stack the odds in their favor. One way they do that is by giving books specific “genre” labels. Humor, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Romance, plus sub-categories like Alternate History, Steampunk, Police Procedural…these are all genre labels and yes, the fans of these genres have expectations about what will be inside a book that bears a specific label. That’s what makes the product predictable, and helps the publisher maximize profits by targeting their budget where it will do the best work.

But it has nothing to do with writing.

The book you have in mind might tick all the boxes for one of these labels. Many books do, and publishers (and agents) love that type of book because it makes their job easier. Unfortunately, none of my books fit so neatly into one category. So, should I change what I write? Should I “write to the market”?

Writing to the market is like setting out to write a blockbuster. You’re aiming at a sly, wily,  restlessly moving target. You’re having to guess, months in advance, what will pique the public’s interest, what will go viral, what will be trending upward on Twitter. In short, it’s a nearly impossible task, and if you succeed, it’ll be more luck than skill.

I write what I want to write. I build my characters, my worlds, my storylines specific to my needs, not the unwritten rules of bean-counters in marketing departments. Writing a novel is hard enough, without burdening myself with writing a book I’m not in love with.

k

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