Monday, December 07, 2009

The Final Push and thoughts about Genre Splintering

I am a few writing days from finishing "Future Tense," a YA novel about a teenager with unwelcome precognitive abilities.  I think of it as urban fantasy, but I'm not certain anymore if the kind of YA novels that call to me can actually sit comfortably in that genre.

When I think of urban fantasy, I think of a story with magical/fantasy elements that emerges from the modern world.  By that definition, Madeline L'Engle's brilliant "A Wrinkle in Time" would be urban fantasy.  (At least to my thinking.)

But it seems to me that urban fantasy has been narrowed to a point where if the story doesn't have Fey, vampires, or were creatures, it's not part of the  'cannon.'

Does it even matter?  I don't know, but it seems as if genre keeps splitting to finer and finer distinctions until we'll have separate categories for books about left handed shape shifters or teen werewolf rock stars or vampires in the subways of NY.

I think such specificity is bad for publishing, bad for writers, and bad for readers.  It leads to a rush of copy cat books and a loss of true diversity on the bookshelf.  Especially if books are organized by sub-sub-sub genres.  If the tent is large enough so that more kinds of books can comfortably fit beneath its shelter, then there is a greater chance of serendipity--when a reader finds a book that is just a little bit different that he or she expected.

It's the difference between choosing a Mac-Wendy-King burger on the highway versus pulling into a local diner.  I'd rather chance the diner then have the certainty of the same rubbery meat like substance in the predictable paper wrapper.

So here's my blurb for "Future Tense."  What do you think?  Would Matt's story be urban fantasy?  Or just a neat book you might like to read?

In the ten years since his parents died in a fire he predicted but couldn't prevent, seventeen year old Matt is trying to stay out of trouble, biding his time until he ages out of foster care. All he wants is for the world to leave him alone so he won't be tortured by seeing someone's future he's powerless to change anyway. But his plans for keeping himself aloof fail when he interrupts a vicious attack on Amara, a girl from his school. Despite his best attempts to push her away, he can't ignore the connection they've formed. That's when glimpses of her dangerous future start to invade the present — a future he fears he is responsible for. Now Matt has something to lose again . . . and something to fight for.

1 comment:

  1. Wen Spencer talked to her agents (donald maass) about genre. and he had an interesting take on it - he said that the difference between a mainstream thriller with werewolves and a genre thriller with werewolves is that the reader and the hero/ine in the genre thriller believes that werewolves exist from the beginning.

    In the mainstream novel, no one knows about the werewolves until maybe 2/3'rds through the book.

    It seems to me that this book of yours could be mainstream YA - a little like "Firestarter" by Stephen King.

    I'm remembering an old conversation - you might want to ask Wen about it.