I’m so happy to welcome one of my favorite publishers to my blog today – Storm Moon Press. I was pleased and honored when they offered to stop on my blog during their blog tour event to celebrate SMP’s third anniversary. I’ve spoken consistently about how much I enjoy this publisher; their incredible art work, clean writing, and variety of books offered. I almost never get a bad book from SMP. It’s one of my “go-to” publishers by far. I considered writing posts every day filled with all the reasons why I like this publisher so much, but that may wait for another day. Instead check out 4 reviews of other books. It’s a bit of a random smattering from longer to shorter, f/f to anthologies. I think it gives a good look into the publisher.
For today please check out the excellent post by Roger Armstrong from SMP after the break and be sure to enter the giveaway! It’s actually one of the best in a long time. You can enter here or any of the blog stops. I can’t encourage this enough. Now on with the show…
One of the things that we’re always looking for more of at Storm Moon Press is genre fiction. There is a distinct lack of QUILTBAG-centric mysteries, horror, science fiction, and fantasy. Instead, the market is flooded with contemporary romances. And while there’s nothing wrong with romance, it’s a source of frustration that in order to read something more, you have to look to the mainstream. So, the obvious question is “why?” Why is it so hard to find good QUILTBAG genre fiction? I believe there are a few reasons.
First of all, not to put too fine a point on it, romance is formulaic. There’s a reason why Harlequin can churn out dozens of them a month and why most of them sound like the same story over and over. Romance has a formula that is rarely deviated from. Two people meet, there’s a connection, there’s a conflict, there’s a fight, there’s a reconciliation, there’s a happy ending. Genre fiction has its own tropes and conventions, of course, but rarely is the plot so structured and patterned. Non-romantic plot possibilities vastly outnumber the romantic ones, and so it can be very easy to get lost when writing that kind of story when there isn’t a generally accepted format available.
Secondly, contemporary settings are easy to write. It’s the world we live in already, so there’s no knowledge gap between reader and writer. The writer doesn’t have to explain the way the car works, or how the town is set up, or what the political structure of the area looks like or how it affects the characters. We know all that, because we see it every day. Genre fiction requires worldbuilding. Fantasy and science fiction settings in particular require at least some—and in some cases, intense amounts of—exposition about the world itself and how it works before the story itself can make sense. By the same token, mysteries and horror, while often set in the same contemporary world, generally require a significant amount of planning and research to keep from giving the ending away, and that creates an entirely new set of difficulties.
Third, and possibly most obvious, is that sex sells. There’s a preponderance of QUILTBAG romance and erotic romance precisely because they can’t be found in the mainstream. When the great detective is trying to uncover the truth behind the latest ritual slaying or the space captain is piloting his ship through the asteroid field at impossible odds, it matters much less what sexuality they are than it does in a romance that hinges completely on who the main characters are attracted to. But I’d like to posit that we’re at a point now where the balance has shifted, and QUILTBAG-identified people—especially young adults—are looking for more than romance, for some confirmation that their identity is valid and not limitied to who they want to climb into bed with. Why can’t the great detective be a lesbian? Why *can’t* the space captain be a transgender man? Why does the heroine have to choose between the vampire and the werewolf?
That isn’t to say a romantic subplot can’t exist. Sex can be a part of even a horror novel. But, I think it would do the QUILTBAG literature genre a whole lot of good if the sex came secondary to the plot and worldbuilding. We at Storm Moon Press are starving for these sorts of books, the ones that take us to unusual worlds or make our hearts race with fear. We love seeing a hero in space trying to defeat the enemy while falling for his co-pilot, or watching the grand political maneuverings of fantastical creatures in a world made lush to our senses. Romance and sex can be woven into almost any genre tale, but it’s time, we think, that authors begin with the genre story, the plot and world not our own, and then weave in the other elements of the tale they want to tell. There is a hunger for fantasy and science fiction and urban fantasy and paranormal. Even though we all may be told ‘vampires are dead’ or ‘shifters are so passe’ or ‘no one reads horror’, those naysayers are very, very wrong.
Stepping outside the arena of contemporary romance with our QUILTBAG characters frees them to be anything, to do anything that a heterosexual counterpart character could do. It’s moving beyond sexuality as titillation and into an acceptance of the whole person. It’s certainly not easy to write, and the market is still shaky and uncertain in terms of sales potential, but there is a growing hunger for worlds beyond romance, and I believe that authors and publishers that get in on the ground floor in terms of addressing that need will see that readers are ready and willing to take that leap.
Roger Armstrong is the resident Code Monkey for Storm Moon Press. He can be found (occasionally) on Twitter @slutbamwalla.
Giveaway Opportunity!This guest post is part of Storm Moon Press’ 3rd Anniversary Blog Tour! Comment on this post or any other post on the blog tour with your e-mail address, and you’ll be entered for a chance to win the Grand Prize of receiving 1 FREE e-book each month of 2013 from that month’s new releases for a total of 12 free e-books! Runners up will receive a $25 gift certificate to their choice of Amazon or All Romance eBooks. For more details and to find out about our 3rd Anniversary, head over to the Storm Moon Press’ Official Blog. Thanks for joining us!