Another of those writery blog tour things with the twin purposes of providing you with a few titbits of insight into someone whose blog you already read and linking backwards and forwards in the chain to other writers that you might also like. I was tagged for this one by Ruth Booth, by way of Benjanun Sriduangkeaw, so be be sure to check out their thoughts on this subject (and their writing!), as well as the people tagged by me at the end of this post to continue the chain.
So, if you read a bunch of my writing you’ll quickly find that that I like to dot about in terms of genre: from supernatural to slipstream to (my take on) space opera. I like playing within established forms and hopefully bringing something new to them, because there’s little point in replicating what’s already there, is there?
Three Things I Don’t Write About
- Heroes – Which isn’t to say that my stories are all kitchen sink dramas (well a few them might be but they’re weird kitchen sink dramas, okay?). Of course there’s dramatic stuff in them, and the dramatic stuff is faced by protagonists who may be thought of as the hero of their story, but there’s a difference between a hero and A Hero, right? The kind of hero I don’t write about is the kind that seems capable of everything and incapable of being harmed, because, if you know that they’ll prevail unscathed to the end of the adventure, what’s the point in reading? And I’m especially uninterested in Superheroes. Yeah, I know that a lot of superhero stories are complex explorations of power and corruption or whatever, but at its most basic giving people special powers which afford them advantages over “normal people” is just teenage power fantasy wank, and I’ve never bought into it.
- Familiar monsters – You know what I’m talking about: vampires, zombies, werewolves. We’ve been reading about them since forever, and no matter how often someone promises that there’s is a “new twist” on the old theme, it’s very rarely new enough for my tastes. Really, I’d much rather writers expended their energy in creating new monsters. I’ve been saying for a while that this is what Horror, especially, needs.
- THE (Traditional, Heroic, Epic) Fantasy – For similar reasons to the monsters above, I feel that THE Fantasy (although often very well written), relies too heavily on familiar furniture that’s long passed the stage of handing over to Oxfam. Is there really any excuse for Elves and Dwarves outside of RPGs now? Does every Land need a King? Really? Can’t we create new landscapes and populate them with original societies, with unknown peoples and creatures, with magic that is actually surprising?
(Actually I may not be terribly far from attempting to do these things. Wish me luck.)
Three Things I Do Write About
- Ordinary people – If I don’t write about Heroes, who do I write about? Well, ordinary people…even if put into extraordinary situations. Isn’t an act more heroic if you have to dig deep inside yourself to accomplish it rather than assume your acknowledged heroism will get you through? And doesn’t it make the story more dramatic for the reader not knowing to what extent you will succeed or fail? Ordinary people make better heroes than heroes. They make truer lovers than casanovas. Ordinary people have an essential honesty about them, that I think relates more strongly to the reader in almost every circumstance.
- The Scots language – There’s an ongoing debate in linguistics over whether Scots is a language or a collection of (quite disparate) dialects, but whatever it actually is, I love it and treat it as an extra vocabulary set for when I’m writing about Scottish characters (or Scottish-ish, as in The Moon King). It’s not just a case of local colour or getting dialogue right, many of the words in the Scots lexicon have a specific meaning that has no actual correlation in standard English. And that’s invaluable. It’s like giving an artist an extra palette of colours.
- Music – Anyone following this blog for longer than a week will know that, next to fiction, my other big passion in life is music. It’s been part of my life since I was wee, and I still listen to music every day, perform it regularly and go out and seek new artists at every opportunity. For me, music is one of the only true universal languages, and it pervades life in all cultures, so I think it’s important to write about. Sometimes it’s the explicit subject of my stories (for example, Pearl In The Shell), sometimes it’s built into the form and structure (like my Musicals stories, The Last Note Of The Song, Arrhythmia, and Sweeter Than) and sometimes it’s just a setting detail, the way you would drop in the warmth of a June swelter or the aroma of baking bread. But it’s always there.
Passing it on
Since I went for all ladies last time, I figure it’s the blokes’ turn. Pop over in a few days time and check out what three things Chris Beckett, Keith Brooke and James Everington write about (and what three things they don’t).