I believe that once you get too comfortable, you gotta reach further. There's this evolutionary crackpot idea that giraffes got a really long neck because they kept stretching for the high leaves.
On some level, I think that makes sense to a Muse that does best when really in doubt where to go next. I'm a literary agent's worst nightmare - I can't really keep doing the same thing. I gotta have those higher leaves. The ones withing reach don't taste as nice.
So I might end up having a really long neck too, eventually. Doesn't matter. My kick is in the stretching.
And the rampant transphobia and anti-women sexism and and anti-bi attitude in "my" genre drives me to reach even higher. Longer neck. It's good for something. At least I tried.
Many years ago, I pitched my agent a story about a duchess solving crimes. I wrote 50 pages or so. It didn't work. I couldn't do it. I had huge issues in the way. That the duchess was modelled after my (dead) mother didn't help. Talk about kicking the legs from under a project before it had any chance to walk. For many years, I used to say that I can't write women. (Which is based on the fact that I entirely failed to connect to femininity on a personal level).
I owe my female friends so much there. They've taught me how they are being women. How they live it, deal with it and how they still kick ass. They've filled a reservoir from which I can draw women for my writing, each one awesome and strong and with their own agency.
I sometimes got asked if and when I'll go mainstream. My answer: when I have a mainstream idea that is as compelling as a genre story. (I actually have one of those already, and I'm keeping it for rainy days. It's very meta, very Umberto Eco. Seems like a book I want to attempt when I'm older and more mature. And feeling more meta overall.)
Now, the last few days, one such compelling idea has arrived. I can't stop thinking about it. I'm telling everybody about it. I'm acquiring research material (there isn't much out there...), above all, the Muse is whittling the idea down into an outline. This seems like a large book, and might even be a series.
And the protagonist? A kick-ass woman.
Due to the blood and gore that seems almost inevitable for this book, I'm not convinced it's a proper mainstreamy mainstream idea. But it's a good shot at one. Possibly. I don't know.
I'm still in the haze of discovery. There's a romance, a triangle, and politics. Adventure. It's set in my least well-known century and requires a lot of research into themes I know nothing about. It's a killer book, and I'm very excited about it, but it's extremely straight at the moment (it might be bisexual, possibly), but I don't actually care whether it'll fit anywhere. The Muse is on fire. In love. He can't wait to get started on this.
Basically, "it" has happened. I'm going "straight" for my next book.