Thursday, January 6, 2011

Who Doesn't Want to Talk About Genre?

Why exactly am I writing Urban Fantasy, you might ask, if you were one of the creatures living in my head. (There are many, and they are varied. Some are fanged.) I might have asked myself that as well. It might be that I am a little insecure, and don’t think I can write a good enough epic to get published, not in this bat time and this bat station. It might be that I read too many blogs and see too many posts on Absolute Write from people that don’t want to read about elves anymore. Not to mention the aforementioned notes from all the agents that don’t represent what they call (with a shudder, I imagine) “regular” fantasy. (I shudder too, to tell you the truth. I don’t think of it as regular. Wait, I said ‘not to mention’ and mentioned it anyway. Mah bad!) This perception might be wrong, culled from naysayers and nogooders. Now – that said. The idea of writing an Urban Fantasy seemed quite daunting to me. I am not a creature of the cities. I’ve lived in the suburbs all my life, and longed for the country. I prefer horses to cars. I love a wide open meadow as opposed to a grungy little coffee shop nudged in between a grocery and some import/export depot. I’m not a fan of garage fronts and find fire escapes interfere with the flow of a building.


I came up with what I think is a really good idea for Urban Fantasy. Well, two, actually. The first one I failed at for NaNo, but I have no doubt it will be the next book I write, as soon as I hammer out some plot points. Someone jokingly called this other idea (the one I am working on now) a cross between Chuck and the Dresden Files. I like that. It seems like a good idea makes working on a setting and a person to go in that setting a lot easier. I didn’t think I could build in a city. You know – world build? I look out across a prairie and plop in a castle, a thatched village, a magical ethereal city, or a few outlying farms and call it a day. I didn’t imagine I could do the same thing with a concrete jungle. But holy cow. I’ve already had a battle in a parking garage and followed a Dark Spark down into a subterranean basement laundry, places I know and work with as easily as a fenny marsh or an underground set of lost caves. I guess just because you don’t live in the big bad city, it doesn’t mean you can’t move around in one, using the theatre of one’s mind. And after all, I’ve watched a lot of Friends and Law and Order, SVU. I’m also venting my feelings about modern architecture, which I HATE. And guess what? My MC hates it, too. Take that, post-modern functionality!!

My other problem with a modern setting is my image of a heroine. I like long princess dresses and red hair. Ha! I know. Cliché. Surprisingly, this girl who jumped into my mind has a little pixie haircut (most likely nabbed from Jo on Spooks – a British tv show I am currently obsessed with.) I didn’t want a cliché club girl, either, with big blue eyes and blond hair. She’s short, has brown hair and eyes, a little curvy, and she wears a brown leather jacket. She wears her piece, it’s always her piece, never her gun, in a shoulder holster. (I’m not about to admit I practiced what it was like to pull a gun from a shoulder holster in the mirror. Nope. Not at all.)

So. I have a setting, I have a character. Both fit into a modern, urban fantasy-type setting and story. Said story is chugging along to the tune of 11k. Feels fine. *Looks up at posters of fantasy-type settings.* ...Maybe after the Hobbit gets released….


  1. I believe I have written urban fantasy slashed with sci-fi for one of my stories. But...yeah...not sure really. LOL

    Your story sounds cool, or rather I guess your character sounds cool and characters make the story for me :D

  2. It sounds like you're having a blast, which is far and away the best reason to do anything, writerwise. That said, my two cents:

    Who says it has to be "urban" fantasy, just because it's set in the contemporary world? Take a peek at Esther Friesner's anthologies that are basically suburban fantasy (Witch Way To The Wall, Strip Mauled), for the concept if nothing else.

    I'd also caution against writing urban fantasy for the reason that there are agents who won't look at anything else. Hopefully, an agent will be a long-term partner, and do you want one who won't consider or even looks down on something you really love to do?

    Also, I love Spooks. Or I loved it the last season I saw, anyhow.

  3. Sounds good! :-)

    I've a few urban fantasies written (A Reaper's Tale being the first), and I love the setting.

    I know what you mean about 'regular' fantasy. My first book written was the first in a fantasy trilogy, and it looks like it'll be in the drawer for a long while yet. Ah well. ;-)

    My latest one is what is apparently called "low" fantasy, and it's rather fun so far. Don't want to jinx myself so early in the project (again...), so that's all the detail I'm giving out! :)


  4. Yeah, I read all the same posts by those saying they never want to read about another elf. I'm tired of hearing it honestly, because I have read so few really good books with elves in them that I decided I had to write my own if I was ever going to have my craving satisfied. A bunch of bad books with elves in them does not mean that those of us who love such stories are having our needs fulfilled.

  5. Good for you! I don't read much fantasy, but I assume going to Urban Fantasy was for you like me going from Women's Fic to Crime (and now to Young Adult). Sometimes, stretching yourself beyond your comfort zone works, even when you don't expect it to. Once an idea gets its hold on you, everyone else better watch out! So here's to Urban Fantasy!

  6. Trisha - thank you! That's probably one of the best things a writer could hear about an idea

    Lindsey - the part you mention about the agent was one of my roadblocks to deciding to do urban stories at all. But so many of those agents I query I queried because they said they loved fantasy. I blame my bad query on getting so many passes, of course. And like so many writers, I only write what I want to read... I'm sure an agent only reps whatthey love to read as well....

    Adam, am I ever going to get to read one of these Slade masterpieces? Before they are published? hmmm? I keep offering. A girl gets discouraged you know....

    Ted - you lift my spirits. And I have a great elf story in me. I'll get it out one day.

    April - *chinks glass* I'm with all those words you wrote,right there! :)

    Thanks everyone, for the input and comments.

  7. I'm rather cagey with my drafts, y'know. Don't want to scare peeps off... ;-)


  8. I'm not ascairt.... :) tee hee. Yes I am. I'm afraid of the dark and dangly objects....

  9. You should never write something you don't love just because of what agents want. Besides, there's such a dearth of good epic fantasy out there lately! I'm pulling my hair out trying to find good books to read.