Friday, June 08, 2007

Being Unique

The Christian Suspense Zone recently posted an interview I did with them, and while I was in the neighborhood, I checked out a review they posted of The Restorer.

I wanted to highlight something that made me cheer (No, not the part about liking the book. That was lovely. :-) But this is something else).

Karri Compton wrote:

"It's hard to compare this novel to any others out on the market, although several fiction titles dealing with parallel universes or time travel may coincide in some manner. The only book series I can think of that even remotely parallels this one concerning modern life vs. a medieval-type alternate world is Ted Dekker's Circle Trilogy. But that's a very sketchy comparison. The Restorer starts out with a "mom-lit" feeling, but quickly changes into pure fantasy. As such, it proved to be one of the best novels I've read all year."

"Hard to compare." That is such a daunting challenge for writers. We are encouraged to have concise elevator pitches. Editors like quick and apt comparisons to share with the sales and marketing folk. "It's like Erma Bombeck meets Braveheart." The bookstore buyers want a quick answer to "who is it like? Karen Kingsbury? Ted Dekker?"

But some of the most interesting novels I've read don't quite fit any clear category, and are difficult to compare to others. I've loved Jasper Fforde's "Thursday Next" books and can only imagine how his agent pitched them to editors. LOL!

My teens recently performed in "High School Musical." I was struck by the theme of "status quo" - and how much safer that culture felt when everyone had a proper label and fit a category.

I'm not a mad rebel. If I felt called to write books that fit snugly into a clear, popular genre, I would do so gladly. But my brain takes weird twists and so do my stories. Trying something that isn't "status quo" causes extra challenges. That's why I appreciated that the reviewer commented on the uniqueness of the story.

Today I'm cheering for all the writers who are trying new things--blending genres in new ways. And another cheer for the brave publishers and hard-working marketing teams who are trying to find ways to describe these works. And my biggest cheer of all - for readers who come along for the ride.

Oh - and speaking of unique? Wanna hear a great joke?
How do you catch a unique rabbit?
U-nique up on him.
How do you catch a tame rabbit?
Tame way.

Sharon Hinck


Chawna Schroeder said...

LOL! I love the rabbit jokes. Does the same technique work on readers?

Valerie Comer said...

Re Jasper Fforde--does it surprise you to know I also love Thursday Next? I've tried to describe it as Literary meets alternate history meets the classics meets comedy. And when all that (and more) meets Jasper Fforde, just be thankful he lives in an alternate world.

Now I'll have to think how I'd describe your books--but I'm leaving on vacation on Sunday and I don't know if I'll come up with anything before then. Hmm...

Deena said...

Here's to writing outside the box!!

And here's to corny jokes:

Why do Eskimos wash their clothes in Tide...
Because it's too cold out tide!!

Karenee said...

I describe your books as, "You really WANT to read this, trust me!"

Val sent me her copy of "The Secret Life of Becky Miller," and it was too good to keep to myself. As the last time I turned a book over to our overstuffed church library it vanished into the wild-blue-yonder, I wrote a long and unavoidable note in the front page telling whoever gets ahold of it that they must pass it on when done reading, and handed it to a friend. She loved it and handed it to someone else. At this point, I don't know how many people have read it, but I hope this grass-roots effort pays off for you.

(By the way, my friend said her husband enjoyed the bits she read to him, so you're reaching beyond the intended audience.)

So, I read Restorer, and will post a review once I figure out how to do it well... and find time between cleaning house and taking care of kids. *laugh*

Thank you so much for writing books I can re-read and hand to my daughters one day without worrying about what they'll get out of them.