Monday, 6 December 2010

Another writer.

You might think writers are in competition with each other. After all, there are millions of books available and everyone has a limited book budget, so we should all be trying to get you to buy ours rather than those of other writers. It's a bit easier with Ebooks because they can be a lot cheaper but even so, there are a hell of a lot of them. So we must be beating each other off with sticks, surely?

It doesn't work like that. I will never buy a Mills and Boon romance, and it is likely that those people who enjoy Mills and Boon style romance won't buy mine. There is no point in me trying to compete with romance authors because we are after entirely different audiences. Likewise, science fiction authors. Even other authors of horror or paranormal tales because even within that genre, there are wide differences.

Clive Barker often goes for full-on gore and imaginative monsters. Stephen King can be more subtle on the monsters but he can also be long-winded. His books are huge and lately, they have become cumbersomely so. I'm not competing with either of them. I draw my monsters from the real world and from legends. You can look mine up and find them. Where I refer to the Gamaliel and reference the Key of Solomon, you can find it. Where I talk about Bifrons and reference Goetia, you can find it. You don't have to visit the British Library and wear cotton gloves and read Latin. Partial translations of both those grimoires are on Amazon in paperback. So is the grimoire of Armadel although I haven't made enough sense of that one to make use of it yet.

I dodge full-gore and leave it to the imagination because you'll scare yourself better than I ever could. Rather than the wild monsters of Barker's 'Hellbound Heart' (later Hellraiser) or the alien beings of King's 'Dreamcatcher', I like to find monsters that you can find too. Then I can add in something you can't find and drive you nuts looking for it. You won't find the book 'Geometria ton Zoon' because it's my equivalent of H. P. Lovecraft's 'Necronomicon'. I made it up. One day I'll make it up for real and put it on Lulu but only after that second book comes out. It's not in the first one, apart from a passing mention and a hint of a later story.

So I am not in competition with other new writers such as Terry Grimwood, whose fantastic creations rival Clive Barker's. His work is different. I liked that book as much as I like Clive Barker's but I don't want to work that way.

I've just realised I called writing 'work'. It is, now. It's gone from beer-money hobby to actual business and I'm still coming to terms with that. I suspect I'll have to fill out two self-employment forms from now on, although the one in April will be expenditure-only because the book doesn't come out until two days after the end of the tax year. Blogging is still hobby writing. I doubt I'll ever see a penny from those oil companies or tobacco sellers I'm allegedly supported by. They don't even say thanks. A case of baccy or a rebate on the fuel bill would be nice but it's not going to happen.

So when a writer says hello. I don't think 'Oh no, competition!' I go and have a read. When I read lines like this -

In 1730, Santa had set up a government apparatus in the North
Pole with an elf military, diplomatic corps, courts, and a parliament.
All government officials were hand-selected by Santa and answered
to him alone. Santa did not trust the elves to know what was best
for them. After all, they were the ones found hungry and basically

I'm thinking 'Writer with a serious message couched in humour' and in this case, definitely Christian-based but no less relevant even to non-Christians. What the aliens did to the sailor in 'A Halloween Sail', as well as the explanation behind alien cattle mutilations, had me laughing out loud.

Take a look. If it's not to your taste, it's free so you lose nothing but time. 'North Pole Lost' is long but mirrors so much of modern life it's worth a read.

He has a blog too.

No, writers aren't competing for audience. Those who prefer one writer will not necessarily give shelf room to another.

What we're all trying to do is get noticed. Elbowing another out of the way doesn't work because we're not all trying to be noticed by the same people. Some don't like my stories. I had a lot of complaints about 'Telephone Pest' because it was too scary even though nobody was even bruised in that story. As I said, your imagination will scare you better than mine will. I just place a few images in there and you do the rest.

Nobody will ever write the story that everyone likes. Dickens couldn't do it. The Brontes couldn't. Bram Stoker didn't manage it and neither did Mary Shelley. Why would I think I could do it?

All I can aim for is to write a story that somebody likes.

Which reminds me. I haven't had a fictional interlude for a while. I'll have to think up something Christmassy.

This will require a whisky dream.


Neal Asher said...

Always best to write a story 'you' like and hope others like it.

Nightwatchstate said...

Was wondering if you had any creative writing training, or just did it?

Johan De Ronin said...

Hear, hear!
I was trying to explain this to someone while I was doing NaNoWriMo last month. I didn't do it anywhere near as well as you just did. Bravo!

Anonymous said...

Personally I rather like authors like Charles Stross; his Laundry series of novels are fascinating, horrifying and hilarious by turns. Imagine, if you will, James Bond on a modern civil service budget, with some added extras. The particular department he talks of deals with threats far, far nastier than a mere rogue state or nuclear terrorism.

Of all his short stories, I best like "The Concrete Jungle". It starts with a question: why does the British Government so love CCTV cameras? Answer: the cameras can be weaponised.

This is one of the stories he published online; go read it and see if his style takes your fancy.

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