Feels so free – feels like me
I was reading the newspaper this morning and (apart from Tom and Katie’s breakup upsetting extra-terrestrials more than humans), I came across an article about becoming a successful writer. Apparently, you need to stick to the same formula or story line to get enough of a following to become the Next Big Bookshelf Filler. For example – if you write about zombies, stick to zombies – if you write about mid-life-crisis sex, stick to mid-life-crisis sex, because your readers will know what to expect.
Oops – too late. Every short story and novel I’ve written are immeasurably different. My short stories run the entire scale from dark and intense to humorous. An example of this is the very dark Corrugated Dreaming which won an HQ/Harper Collins award to the very light Hot Dog Stand which won the Comic Crime prize in the Scarlet Stiletto awards.
I didn’t know this secret writers rule when I started writing and I’m kind of glad. Writing, for me, is more of an expression of self rather than getting out there and slam-dunking my stories through that illusive JK Rowlingesque hoop of life.
Truth is – I can’t help writing. Other truth is – I mumble, laugh at my own jokes and hate flying. I’ve had to go interstate a few times to collect writing awards which is great – but flying and speaking in public = NIGHTMARE. My family banned me from watching Air Crash Investigations but that’s annoying because now I don’t know what to look for when I get on a plane (like cracks in the fuselage, loose rivets and ice overload).
But I was wondering when I read the article this morning why my stories are all so different.
Bear with me because I’m thinking out loud here:
Let Sleeping Gods Lie – a Harley-riding biker returns to his family to confront the demons of his past. His father is a cult leader and the story examines fundamentalist religion and the shadow it can cast across a landscape, through communities and within families. The plot is propelled by mystery and moth-balled family secrets of love, betrayal and murder. (A sweeping landscape novel that I wrote when I was living in a sweeping landscape).
Wolf Pear – a psychic detective is tracking down the serial killer who murdered his brother. His quest leads him to a very odd woman and her ‘death’ garden. (I used to wish I was a psychic detective until I realised I wasn’t psychic).
The Everything Theory – a boy finds himself being chased by the secret service after getting caught up with a group of scientists who investigate advanced ancient technology. This is a thriller for anyone interested in the Nine Unknown Men, anthropology, astronomy, Gilgamesh, Zoroastrianism , Angkor Wat, the pyramids and anything to do with the truth behind mythology and conspiracy theories. (My biggest seller – I think because it deals with things we know about but have never really ‘known’ about, if you get my drift).
Soul’s Child – A fake television psychic/ghost hunter is confronted by the thing he has lied about and earned money off for years – a demon. The story is told by his wheel-chair bound daughter who holds the real power and must dig deep to save him. (I’ve watched a few ghost- hunting ‘reality’ shows on television and wonder what the crew would do if something nasty really did appear).
The Eleventh Question (unpublished) – There have been ten pivotal questions asked since people had their very first intelligent thought. The first question – who am I? The second question – why am I here? Every time a new question is asked the world moves to another level of enlightenment. Now a girl is set to ask the next big question – the problem is, her question changes the world in a way no one expected. (Oh, how I love philosophy! The larger portion of the truth arises from the seemingly irrelevant).
My next story will be different again, not because I like breaking the rules, but because I like variety and if that’s me, I’ll stay true to myself.