Surprising Even Myself
I have to say I love this monthly blogging for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. There are always interesting prompts — trying to figure out what to write about each week was ultimately what made me stop my weekly blogging, but now I don’t have to worry about it! Thank you, IWSG!
So, this week’s topic is whether I’ve ever surprised myself with my writing — writing a new genre or whatever.
Why, yes, actually, I’ve done so a couple of times, mainly because I love to try new things and grow as a writer. If I just sat back and wrote the same genre all the time, I know I’d get bored (and if I get bored, there’s a good chance that my readers will get bored too).
So, the first time I surprised myself was when I wrote my first paranormal Regency romance. It was a looong time ago just after Kensington Publishers told me that they wouldn’t be publishing any more traditional Regencies (they published four books of mine under their Zebra Regency line–I’ve since gotten the rights to those books back, re-edited (and in one case completely rewrote the book) and published them again myself as the Merry Men Quartet).
I’d gotten a strange idea for a Regency hero who was a witch (I later called him and his people Vallen). I really wanted the book to be a Regency romance but with a magical twist. This was before paranormal romance had become popular (yes, that long ago!), so I wasn’t exactly sure how to write it (how much world building to put in, specifically), but I just gave it a go. It took me about three full rewrites before I was happy with it, but I have to say, I’m still pleased with the way the book came out. Magic in the Storm ended up being number three in the Storm series (as I kept writing prequels to it).
The second time I surprised myself was when I tried to write a horror story. Um… that one didn’t work out so well. I had joined in with a group of friends to put together an anthology of horror and paranormal stories, so I thought I’d try my hand at horror. Sadly, I write romance. I read romance (and mystery, paranormal and some scifi, but definitely NOT horror).
I worked really, really hard at my horror story. I came up with what I thought was a clever idea (still think so, by the way–it’s about Lilith, Adam’s first wife), and spent a good amount of time writing the story. I was pleased with it when I was finished and proudly handed it to my husband to read and tell me what he thought. He handed it back saying that it was a “sweet story”. What???!!! Sweet? “It was supposed to be horror,” I told him. He just laughed and said, “No, it’s a nice story. Horror it is not.”
I put In A Beginning in the anthology anyway and then up for sale as an independent story after the anthology contract ended. Every now and then someone will buy a copy. I just hope they aren’t expecting a scary tale.
Oh, and it was the first cover I ever designed all on my own. I was rather proud of that. 🙂
And finally, the last time I surprised myself, I had not only tried a new genre, but did wrote the book (novella, really) in record time! I was asked to write a Kindle World book for a series I’d never read (The Plundered Chronicles by Alex Westmore). It’s a lesbian pirate series that’s loads of fun to read (I later when back and read the whole series!). So, I was asked to write a gay pirate romance. I happened to have a gay secondary character in another book whose story I really wanted to tell, so this was a great opportunity.
Okay, so I’d never written (or even read) gay romance before. That didn’t stop me! I just did a lot of really fast research and reading. And then… I was given one month to write the book. Yikes! Luckily, it only had to be a novella.
I needed to not only research the genre, which was new to me, but also Barbary pirates (it’s a time-travel where a contemporary hero gets picked up by a ship of Barbary pirates off the coast of Spain). It was a lot of research done really fast. I then only had a few weeks to actually write the book. I wrote day and night every single day for those weeks, but I got it done! I even had time to send it to my editor, who was fantastic and took on this rush job for me. Not only writing a new to me genre, but writing super fast (faster than I’d ever done before) was more than surprising, I was pretty amazed. Falling for a Pirate ended up being a fun book. I don’t know how well it resonates among readers of gay romance, but I have to say I kind of enjoyed it.
The point of all this is that no matter what you write you can surprise yourself. If you put your mind to it (and do your research) you can write nearly anything. It may not always be true to the genre (like my “horror” story), but have fun with it. Write a book you would want to read. And sometimes you will surprise yourself.
Trying new things and expanding yourself as a writer is so essential. Enjoy it!