Wednesday, September 17, 2008

There's fantasy. And then there's fantasy. And . . .

Long ago and far away, a man named Carl Linnaeus created a a system of taxonomy for classifying all living creatures. Remember it from your biology courses? The "kingdom, phylum, class, genus, species" -- and then some -- breakdown? Well, modern popular fiction has a taxonomy of its own. For example, there's no such thing as plain old fantasy anymore. I'm afraid I don't have the time to be as meticulous about categorization as Linnaeus was, but here are some distinctions I've noticed.

  • Earthbound fantasy, historical. It takes place in the past, usually the distant (Arthurian or medieval) past, on our own planet.

  • Otherworld fantasy, historical. It takes place in an alternate or parallel world, very much like earth, in a place and/or time period that has a feel similar to those on earth.

  • Earthbound fantasy, contemporary, usually urban

  • Otherworld fantasy, contemporary, usually urban

  • Earthbound fantasy, futuristic, urban and/or interstellar

  • Otherworld fantasy, futuristic, urban and/or interstellar

  • Fantasies with and without epic battles

  • Fantasies with and without female "heroes"

  • Fantasies with and without dragons, faeries, elves, etc.

  • Steampunk
Okay, I'm already tired. So which do you like best? I'm torn.

As I wrote my Galdeshian fantasies for Ellora's Cave -- Wing and Tongue, Cauldron of Keridwen, and Prince of Glacier Glas, I became immersed in the world. Even my authorial voice shifted, as if it had an automatic transmission, to reflect that world. These stories fall into the second category above, and they all have dragons. I adore writing about this "other-place" and its unusual society and inhabitants.

But when I wrote Hoochie Coochie Man, in the contemporary-urban category, I loved it, too. And I love InDescent, a work-in-progress, passionately.

But wait, there's more! Now I'm creating a futuristic urban fantasy series for Loose Id. The first volume, Looking for Some Touch, will be released in early November. And it features men with men, yet another sub-category of fantasy that's only recently begun to shine. Am I crazy about this series? Well, take a guess.

So, I repeat: Which type of fantasy do you prefer? Can you come up with other classifications?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thank you, Babel Fish.

Somebody wants to befriend me on LiveJournal. However, everything on her page (I think it's a she) is in some Cyrillic alphabet (I think it's Cyrillic), so I of course had no idea what this person was about. I brought up Yahoo's most excellent resource, Babel Fish. It's the Dudley Do-Right of translators. And voila! My wannabe-friend's message became clear as . . . well, you decide:

This to you not after the samovar with the pancakes mother-in-law to dance.

I'm so glad this person found me. Now I'm not only in possession of a nugget of wisdom, I have a title for my new book. Can you guess what it is?

  • Samovars and Pancakes
  • The Pancake's Mother-in-Law
  • Dancing with My Mother-in-Law
  • After the Samovar with the Pancakes (Comes the Mr. Coffee with the Toast)
  • This To You, Not My Mother-in-Law
  • Babel Fish Translates George Bush's Last Speech

(Sorry, I have to go pee. My bladder can't take such harassment.)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Is it possible to write M/M fiction without pissing off 3,684,963 people?

Yikes-o-rama. Some months back I started compiling, in my head, a list of M/M fiction irritants and no-no's culled from various book reviews and blogs. My conclusion? Ain't no romance you're gonna create involving two (or more) men that won't trip somebody's trigger. I'm not talking about writers and readers who have an aversion to the subsubgenre itself; I'm talking about writers who write gay and readers who read gay.

Whoa, jump back, Jack. The butt bug is biting tonight!

I finally started jotting down all the stuff people have griped about. Here's a list of what they find laughable, repellant, tiresome, stupid, unrealistic, adolescent, and/or indicative of general cluelessness:

  • "Emo" characters (This term has become WAY more inclusive than it should be.)
  • Exceptional endowment (The pink torpedo is out; the pink Twinkie is in . . . as far as it can go, that is.)
  • Too much sex
  • Too much swallowing of the salty snowball during sex
  • Too little sex
  • Too little swallowing of the salty snowball during sex
  • "Odd" positions during sex
  • Too much talking during sex
  • Too little talking during sex
  • Too much BDSM
  • Not enough BDSM
  • Blue eyes (!)
  • A history of abuse as a child (Guess that's old news. YIPPEE! Child abuse no longer exists!)
  • Tension or plot conflict that involves homophobes (Guess they're old news, too. YIPPEE! Vicious, mindless sexual prejudice no longer exists!)
  • Love at first sight (Well, yeah, that's baloney--eHarmony be damned.)
  • Arousal at first sight (*Ahem.* Just take a gander at some of these photos and then start singing "How Dry/Soft I Am". Lesbians, by the way, are excluded from this challenge.)
  • Protagonists who claim to be straight and only get bent with and for each other. (It's the "I swear I have always been and will always be straight" part that makes this oxymoronic. But I don't know of too many writers who try to peddle gay or bi heroes as hardcore het's.)
  • The deep end of the sensitivity pool: too much crying, too much schmaltz, too much angst (Where's the line and when is it crossed?)
  • The shallow end of the sensitivity pool: too much hard-nosedness, too much glibness and flippancy, too much insouciance (Ditto the above comment.)
  • Too many cops/detectives/cowboys (For me, at least, they are getting stale. I have a hard time being engaged by characters who remind me of the Village People, although some authors can pull it off.)
  • Lack of alpha traits and a plethora of "womanish" traits
  • Too much cussing (See above.)
  • Unrealistic dialogue (See above.)
  • Obligatory HEA (I agree with this one.)
  • Too much pondering of emotions
  • Too little attention to emotions
  • Lack of chemistry (How published authors can produce a lack of chemistry between two protags in a romance is beyond me.)
  • Use of animal similes/images/metaphors/sounds (Kind of difficult to steer totally clear of them, especially when it comes to dialogue tags . . . those repetitive buggers.)
  • Menages that involve two gay men and a woman (I must admit, this plot device does bewilder and annoy me.)
  • Pointless drama (I'm not entirely sure what that is.)
  • Female characters who are a.) villains/foils, b.) goddesses/Earth Mothers, c.) ignorant of their men's true sexual preference, d.) you name it.
Shee-it, see what I mean? I'm left asking myself, what the hell does qualify as getting it right? Damned if I know . . .