Why is My Travels With a Dead Man a multi-genre book?
In today’s publishing environment, literary agents, Indie publishers and even large traditional publishing houses all want to shoehorn the books they sell (publishers) or represent (agents) into neat little categories. The reason? It makes their job easier.
A novel that fits within a particular genre makes it easier to market. Genre categories act as shorthand for readers, agents and publishers alike. For example, if a book’s labeled “Space Opera” or “Paranormal Romance,” the publisher doesn’t have to work as hard to explain the story to its potential audience. Readers understand what they’re likely to get if they buy a Paranormal Romance novel: one where then main story involves a love affair between a human character (generally female) and a vampire, werewolf, ghost or even a demon.
And in a world where people have more and more entertainment options, and less time to choose among them, knowing the genre of a novel allows readers to quickly find books that suit their preferences. Think of genres and sub-genres as comfort food. Sure, some days you’re willing to be adventurous and try out the new Asian Fusion Sushi restaurant, but there’s risk you won’t like what you order. How much easier is it to simply get what you already know you’ll enjoy, like say, pizza?
It’s the same principle when readers choose what they want to read. Many times they’re looking for more of the same thing they enjoyed in the past. Look at the list of best-selling authors, and one thing often sticks out: They stay in their lane. Grisham usually writes legal thrillers. Stephen King primarily sticks to horror. It’s not that they don’t sometimes branch out, but the public typically knows when they’re in for if they buy one of their books.
So why would anyone write a “genre-blending” novel that’s not so easy to categorize, and likely harder to market? I can’t speak for anyone else, but in my case it was a the result of two factors: 1) complete and utter ignorance of how the current fiction market works, and 2) because I didn’t start out to write a book to please a defined audience, I wrote one that interested me. In fact, I had no plan at all for the book when I started it, just a “what if” question. What if I wrote a story in which a young woman meets a man going by the name of a famous literary figure, in my case, Jorge Luis Borges?
Crazy idea, right? But as I kept writing, the characters showed me where they wanted the story to go. They wanted a dash of a complicated romance, but also mystery, suspense and something in the realm of fantasy with ghosts and a bronze Buddhist statue that only speaks to the main character, a young woman, in her dreams. A story where she’s gifted with unusual abilities that allow her to alter time and space, but has no idea what to do with them. A story about the choices we make in life, or don’t make, and the consequences that follow thereafter. A story of how our relationships with others affect not only our own lives but the lives of everyone around us, for better or worse. A story in which a young woman must overcome her own insecurities, deal with the inevitable tragedies that afflict us all, and develop the strength of will to make her own choices and create her own identity, rather than allow others to define it for her.
And that’s how I ended up with my debut novel, My Travels With a Dead Man. As my IndieReader review states:
MY TRAVELS WITH A DEAD MAN is a compulsive page-turner that contains elements of romance, tragedy, adventure, journeys through space and time, terror, mysticism, and meditation. It’s a high-octane, multilayered odyssey that is perfect for readers looking for a little bit of everything.
I hope you’re open to reading a book that has “a little bit of everything.” It’s available at the links below.
And please check out my website, Steve Searls, Author – http://www.stevesearls.com/. It includes free samples of my short fiction and a blog, My Journey, where I write about whatever interests me, including personal essays. You can also find me on social media at the links below my bio.
Thanks for reading!
Jane Takako Wolfsheim learns she can alter time and space after meeting a charismatic stranger named Jorge Luis Borges.
Inextricably she falls for Borges. Soon, however Borges’ lies and emotional abuse, and nightmares about a demonic figure, “the man in black,” nearly drive Jane mad. After her parents are murdered, Jane flees with Borges. Both the ghost of haiku master, Basho, and the Daibutsu of Kamakura, a statue of Buddha that appears in her dreams, offer her cryptic advice. Unable to trust anyone, Jane must find the strength to save herself, her unborn child, and possibly the future of humanity.
Steve Searls retired from the practice of law in 2002 due to a rare chronic autoimmune disorder (Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Cell Associated Periodic Syndrome). He began writing poetry in 2001 and, using the pseudonym, Tara Birch, was the featured poet of Tryst Poetry Journal’s Premiere Issue. He’s also published numerous poems as Tara Birch in print and online, including the poetry chapbook, Carrots and Bleu Cheese Dip, in 2004. Steve was also active as a blogger posting under the name, Steven D, at Daily Kos (2005-2017), Booman Tribune (2005-2017) and caucus99percent (2016–present). Steve’s published essays on Medium include Clara’s Miracle, about his wife’s cancer and resulting traumatic brain injury from chemotherapy, and My Rape Story. Raised in Colorado, he now lives with his adult son in Western NY. My Travels with a Dead Man is his first novel.
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