Saturday 24 July 2021

Burn this City update

The edits of Burn this City are taking pretty long (I wanted to be done last week, and then the heat wave just short-circuited my brain, so I'm likely going to need a few more days). But the link is up and I should hit the deadline. This one will be my first KU release. We don't have a cover yet, but I'll reveal it on this blog once Lady Tiferet has sent me the final version.

I've now called Burn this City my m/m swansong a few times and while that shocked me the first time, it's now something I'm increasingly accepting. I think I'm through all five stages of grief when it comes to m/m; I'm not quite at the place where I'm excited about the future, but I'm mostly done with the past at least. And it's not like I've wasted those past 15 years - I've met great (fictional and non-fictional) people, learnt some important life lessons, grown as an artist and had fun. That's worth a lot and I'll always remember that period fondly.

And once the mind relaxes, the Muse brings ideas. So a few days ago, I woke up with an idea.

I spent the morning on a Discord call with a very old, dear friend of mine, and I pitched him my historical fantasy series that's been taking shape. I already have four characters and set a few very broad parameters (technology level, type of magic/occultism, gender relations), and now I'll incubate - that is, gather ideas, plots, read some books, put together an outline, and so on.

Basically, I'll pour everything into the book that I love and have loved for decades. One big change will be that the principal character will be a (bisexual) woman, and love/romance will be a part of the plot, but I'd expect won't take more than 10-15% of the time on page. At this point, I've definitely left my old comfort zones behind.

I think one reason why I've clung to M/M for as long as I have - and may write the occasional book to complete arcs and series I've started, or if the idea is so compelling that it overrides everything else - is just the people. As I explained to my friend, pretty much everybody I know socially is somehow involved with the industry. Almost all of my social media feed comes from M/M and romance people, and the time and focus spent on observing the industry and looking at trends etc have taken a huge amount of my mental hard drive. And re-orientating myself towards my new genre will take time and I'll be the new kid in the school, even though I was around there 15-20 years ago.

I think fantasy in Germany has evolved past all those barriers I encountered there when I started out in fantasy/sci-fi. I went into M/M fifteen years ago because the type of book I wanted to write had no market/space in the genre I came from. It occurs to me I'm leaving it pretty much for the same reasons, so we're coming full circle, and as somebody who thinks in cycles, I like that idea very much.

I keep re-reading the previous blog entry, and I still attempt to poke holes into the logic and reasoning. I guess I just on some level don't love change. I'll feel more comfortable and more excited about the change once it's actually done - and done in the writing game means stories are actually being written. Once I'm halfway through plotting and/or writing the first book in the series (I just know this is a large multi-book project), I'll find my wings again. It's always that way.

I did have to reckon with the reasons why I write the things I do, and why they don't sell enough to make this successful (and financially viable) for me. I'm not going to break myself on the wheel of trying to inhabit the space I've created for myself and which is just not working for me anymore - if it were just about grinding for a few more years, I could do it, but all I see is ever-diminishing returns. A friend in the m/m space said it bluntly: "They've forgotten you." And he's right.

At the same time, historical and fantasy m/m doesn't sell, and I've felt constricted by the m/m part of it for so long (things you're allowed to do and things that people expect, such as a certain heat level and number and explicitness of sex scenes, but mostly how much of the book I need to spend on developing the romance), so going back to a bigger audience that is now much more ready for queer characters makes sense for me. I'm even thinking of "porting over" a couple of my backlist books by cutting back the romance and ramping up the fantasy elements, hey, presto, instant military fantasy trilogy. 

Market research indicates that mainstream fantasy is largely driven by trilogies and larger series, so my friend said, "The faster you can get yourself anchored in the market with two or better three trilogies, the better." So once I've made Burn this City the best I can, I'll get started on that.

I'll have to set up even a rudimentary website for the "new" author, though I don't think I'll do quite as much social media (I just don't have the capacity). In addition, the new books will be written in German and then translated into English. I'm aiming for a very specific voice which will be easier to write in German. 

The "acceptance" stage of grief comes with a huge amount of relief. Dragging all those negative emotions and fighting the inevitable sure was exhausting. 

I'm not yet at "happy and excited", but at least I have a large, complex series to sink my mental teeth into, and my German fantasy buddy is excited about the concept, so I'm off to a good start. In many ways, all I'm doing is coming home. 

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