Occasionally, when I meet people outside of conventions, AKA, in real life, and they find out I’m a writer, they ask what kind of stuff I write. I always say, “I write science fiction.” That either interests them or I get a wave off, since they don’t read that kind of stuff. That’s normally okay by me. I’m not generally talking to them in order to sell books. I’ll ask about what they do — what interests them. That’s the best way to meet people in my opinion.
However, my latest book — the one I’m currently writing, is just barely science fiction. Am I still a science fiction author if I write a mystery/detective story? Let me tell you a secret. I’ve got a whole stash of stories that I write that will never see print. It’s not because they are bad, but because I write more than I’ll ever have the chance to publish and market. I have to pick and choose which of the stories will be able to find readers. And a lot of these hidden stories are not science fiction. They are mysteries and adventures and romances. They are all lengths. There are a few that are novel length, but most are novella and short story length. The story dictates the length.
Now, while I could slap some of these into a kindle book and sell them as 99-cent shorts, it’s not something I’ve chosen to do. For one thing, I’m trying to provide a known quality for people that have taken the gamble and read one of my books. I want them to know what to expect from a Henry Melton book, at least in a general way. That’s the whole purpose of my book categories.
If someone reads one of my Small Town, Big Ideas stories, then if they see another with that marketing label, then they’ll know what they’re getting. It’s the same with The Project Saga. Different styles for different people. Now, I like both. Many people do, but setting expectations is part of the process of making people happy.
So, about this new book… Amarillo Texas is a small city, not a small Main-street town like some I’ve written about, but it’s a adventure tale with a high school aged main character who has been dropped into extraordinary circumstances. It’s a Small Town, Big Ideas natural. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve pushed the boundaries of certain medical theories, so I can easily claim it as science fiction. That’s what comes naturally to me. I see what’s real now, and then keep on writing even if reality hasn’t quite caught up to what I have in the story.
But, if you look at the action and the plot, this story lives in the Mystery genre. I wrote it that way deliberately, even if I’m not “Henry Melton, Mystery Writer”. I’m sure this kind of cross-genre business would get me in trouble if I were writing for a New York publisher. Luckily, I’m writing for me.
I have a great fondness for this one, and a lot of it comes from my memories. I grew up in Amarillo. The main character lives on my old street, in my old house. I’ve had to change a few things, because the world has changed. My old high school burned down, for one. A new one was built with the same name, but the school districts changed. You see the problems.
It will be 2014 before it comes out. I still have to fix all those persistent typos and grammar glitches and get my helpers to look over my shoulder to find the plot gaffes. But you’ll like it. I’m sure.
Now, if I could just find a good title.