Some of y’all may remember me—Meredith Holmes, author of Unseelie and short stories such as Widow’s Walk and Saturday Night. And that came off as more “Hi, I’m Troy McClure!” than I intended… Ginger Simpson has been wonderful enough to host me today on her blog and this just thrills me to my toes. Today’s my birthday and talking about writing and actually writing are two of my favorite ways to celebrate! I write primarily romance/urban fantasy. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I even knew there was such a thing as urban fantasy, much less that I wrote it myself!
Urban fantasy is the subgenre (or maybe it’s own genre?) of fantasy literature which is set in contemporary times or settings. Unseelie, if I may use my own book for an example, is urban fantasy because the main (human) character lives and works in the “modern” world. Although most of the action takes place in the realm of the Sidhe, the time and era is our century. I never intended to jump into the genre of urban fantasy—I tried writing high fantasy and alternate realities, working on creating entire worlds… Well, it didn’t work. I kept slipping in modernisms, making the characters have too many touchstones in modern culture. Finally, I just took a deep breath and let it go, wrote what I imagined instead of trying to force it into a high fantasy mold. Saturday Night stopped being an Anne Rice wanna-be and became a short story about two creatures of the night just trying to get by in evening London. Unseelie stopped sounding like a really bad Tolkein knock-off and developed it’s own voice.
Romance is another odd category, at least for me. Growing up, I read a lot of the really cheesy “rape romance” sort of stories. The kind you find tucked behind grandma’s couch cushions or hidden in college dorms, the 200 page or less stories with big, blown-out, Knot’s Landing hair, super-aggressive alpha-males and meek, ultra-submissive women with “fine-textured skin” who were always models. As I got older, I found better books, better writers—Eloisa James and Laura Kinsale spring immediately to mind. Romance lost some of it’s stigma as a genre; it became less an object of derision and more of a nonchalant “Oh, this? I’m just reading this great novel with complex characters and an intriguing plotline… Nothing rapey or bodice ripping here at all!” (Though, to be fair, I do like me some ripped bodices now and then—just with better writing than used to be prolific in the genre.) It became only natural for me to combine my love of romance with my budding urban fantasy writing and fall in love with the offspring of the wonderful union.
That brings me to this: It’s been almost a year since Unseelie came out, a bit less than that since Widow’s Walk was published as a short story. I’m working on a new series, the Personal Demon trilogy, which combines not only the urban fantasy and the romance genres but some new elements as well—characters embracing non-traditional sexualities and proclivities, self-rescuing princesses, and a good dose of sympathy for the devil. Writing is a journey—I know how trite that can sound, but it really is. If you’re afraid to take the first step into unknown territory, you end up stuck in place. I think about that often as I sit here every day and work on the next novel I’m hoping to submit (after computer problems and this whole thrill ride called pregnancy—I’m finally not sick all the time and I’m in a very hyperactive place so let’s hope that lasts one more trimester!); if I had let my wariness of romance take root, or my insistence that fantasy must be high fantasy, then nothing I’ve written would ever have gotten published. I wouldn’t be sitting here now, this blog post open but the first of the Demon novels hovering just beneath it, begging me to write more, to finish the story and send it to Deena at Drollerie Press and cross my fingers. Today’s my birthday and there is no better way for me to celebrate (well, alone, anyway!) than with writing, and letting these little creations grow.