Saturday, 28 September 2013

Selling Outside my Comfort Zone

What are we supposed to call non-genre fiction these days?  I refuse to go with 'literary', because that implies that books like 1984 and The Man in the High Castle aren't literary, and that's plain stupid.  Ditto for mainstream; would anyone seriously claim that Lord of the Rings or A Game of Thrones aren't mainstream?  So what does that leave?  I can't think of anything better, so let's just stay where we started and go with non-genre, even though it's barely less rubbish.

So, I mostly write genre fiction, obviously, but every so often I write non-genre fiction, and I don't know exactly why any of that is.  Partly personal preference, of course, partly because I know certain markets a lot better than others, and partly playing to where I've always figured my strengths lie, and ... wait, no, that was my supposed to be my point.  Maybe I should be writing more non-genre fiction, because I actually seem to do quite well with it.

First there was Strive to be Happy in Flash Fiction Online, one of my first pro sales, my first award nomination, and possibly the most well received thing I've written.  Then, a long time later, FFO also took my slightly autobiographical extended-metaphor-with-swans (how does that not make you want to read it?) For Life.  And now I've sold my third stab at non-genre fiction to new publisher Bleeding Heart, for their magazine Transfusion, for the highest rate I've ever earned from a short story, cent per word.

This one's particularly amazing because I was convinced that this little slice of lives, titled A Shadow Play, was going to be a tough sell.  I've been talking about it being non-genre, but it is sort of fantastical: two life stories, one real and one imagined - though perhaps it's not quite that simple - told in a little over 800 words.  It's kind of abstract, downbeat, weird and overambitious and not much like anything else I've done.  All of which, of course, are reasons I'm proud of it, but it's a foolish writer who expects editors to share their predilections!

Fortunately in this instance Bleeding Heart did, and not only that but they work fast: A Shadow Play is due out in the second issue of Transfusion next month.

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