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Why Urban Fantasy?

This post originally appeared as a Guest blog at Mythical Books as part of my Bewitching Book Tours.

I’m doing it as a re-post here today as I’m ‘on holidays’ but still wanted to give my readers something to look at. I hope you like, and don’t forget to check out all the great things over at Mythical Books and Bewitching Book Tours.

Why Urban Fantasy?

 This is a question I’m asked a lot. Not just as a writer, but as a reader. And I can honestly tell you that people don’t like it when you simply answer “Why not?”

Then again, I’m often asked to explain what exactly Urban Fantasy is as sometimes the lines blur between it and other genres such as speculative fiction.

Well, to me, Urban Fantasy is a story set in our world (or a world almost identical to our own) where fantastical things can happen. Vampires and ghosts are proven to be real and will come around and give you a hard time if you keep saying they’re not. Urban Fantasy doesn’t have to be set in the here and now, it can be historical and it can even be set slightly into the future. In some cases it’s set in a time like our own, but with a slightly different history to our own. See Kim Harrison’s The Hollows series and beware the tomatoes. 😉

I think the reason I enjoy reading (and writing) Urban Fantasy is it’s close to real life, but the way we wish it could be rather than the hum drum it really is. That whole ‘What if…’ scenario of escapism through fiction. Where ‘everyday meets the unexplained’, except Urban Fantasy lets you explain it without having to stick to anything as dull as actual reality and proven facts.

When I write Urban Fantasy, I set it in times and places similar to the here and now as I write in the first person narrative and I want my readers to believe the characters more by being able to relate to them. I do obscure technology, times, dates, etc a little to allow some time to pass in the hopes my stories won’t become dated too quickly. But it will happen and, who knows, someone in one hundred years may look back on what I did with mobile phones in Bonnie’s Story – A Blonde’s Guide to Mathematics and guffaw at the thought of such technology. Having that fantasy element there hopefully gives me just enough credibility to still allow the story to be believable.

Urban Fantasy isn’t the only genre I enjoy to read and write, but it seems to be the one I’m most comfortable in. I do enjoy a good historical crime fiction story too, ones that were actually written in the times they are set, or ones that are created from researching the era. I don’t mind, as long as it’s a good read and the killer isn’t too easy to suss. And even in some of those there’s a bit of fantasy seeping out, as the unexplained has been with us a long time now. Some stories then go on to explain it in reasonable tones using logic and pointing out the strings and wires used to get the effect, while others happily throw such things as logic in the bin and point out it was a ghost or demon after all. And why not? Demons and ghosts got up to so many fun things in our history, why not let them have their five minutes of fame too?

Why Urban Fantasy? Well, maybe because my imagination has allowed me to never truly grow up and I still enjoy a good fairy tale. Not a happily ever after, not always, but one where the bad guys are truly bad and do gruesome things and there is a good guy there to sort it all out. That play of Darkness and Light I use in my The Other World series. Just because we’re now adults doesn’t mean we don’t like stories about regular people, like ourselves, getting up to all sorts of fantastical things before heading back to work on the Monday. A perfect example of this is Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere. Perfect piece of Urban Fantasy and one I really enjoyed as the ‘What if…’ opened up so many awesome ideas within my own imagination. In a similar vein see Roofworld by Christopher Fowler. I read this story before Neverwhere and so that seed of ‘What if…’ had already been planted. However, Neverwhere sprouted a totally new series of ideas and situations for me to consider. Still, that whole society within our own scenario is one of my favourite ‘What if…’ and probably where my Other World came from.

Is Urban Fantasy just another type of Young Adult or New Adult? Um, no. Not to me anyway. Although Urban Fantasy can be a sub-genre of both Young Adult and New Adult, it can just as easily fit into the ‘Adult’ section of books too. A lot of Urban Fantasy has adult themes, and not simply because it has overly raunchy sex scenes or drips with blood and gore after a misunderstanding between a vampire and a werewolf. Some Urban Fantasy simply has adult themes as it’s about life as an adult. The trials and tribulations of marrying, having a family, losing the family, etc. Youth don’t want to read about all that. That’s still to come for them and so they can’t always relate. They’d much rather the adventure of a young person like themselves doing daring things, getting the cute guy (or girl) and possibly living happily ever after, but with no true commitments in case someone else comes along in the next book. Well, that’s really just a quick cookie cutter approach to some Young Adult and New Adult Urban Fantasy, but you get the idea, right?

What Urban Fantasy books would I recommend? Well, besides the ones I’ve already mentioned, I enjoy something that has a bit of humour and sarcasm in it as well. But that’s mainly because that’s what I’m like. I often have people ask if I was being sarcastic as I use it so often that it does sometimes get a little hard to tell if I’m being serious or not. Some may see this as a bad thing, but meh. 😉

Really, I just say go to a library and check out what they have. If you like a bit of paranormal in your Urban Fantasy, then authors like Kim Harrison, Katie MacAlister and MaryJanice Davidson are highly recommended. For a bit of Young Adult Urban Fantasy, check out Robert Westall or even some of Terry Pratchett’s work. I have to say one of my favourite Robert Westall Young Adult books is Urn Burial though do feel that one is heading more towards Science Fiction than Urban Fantasy. All the same, a good place to start.

What advice would I give to someone who wants to write Urban Fantasy? Read it first. I give this advice to someone who wants to write in any specific genre. Don’t just think you can do it as you’ve heard about a couple of books and seen a few things on the TV, read the genre. I once thought I could write a romance novel. What I ended up writing was quite a good Young Adult story that was an introduction to Romance… but it did not even scrape the sides as to truly being part of that genre. Why did I fail? It’s because I’m not such a great fan of Romance novels and just felt I could write one as I knew how to write without having to read any first. This won’t cut it. You have to research the theme, learn the flow of the story and the tones to use. And you have to have an open mind and a willingness to learn the theme too and not just dismiss it as beneath you. The same goes for Urban Fantasy.

If I wasn’t such an avid reader and prolific collector of Urban Fantasy, the supernatural and the paranormal, I seriously don’t think I could pull it off. Some people already don’t like my idea of the supernatural as I am avoiding the twinkly ‘Disneyfied’ version so common today and going back to the roots of it all. I liked the old stories, the old ways and the old creatures. And so one of my aims with my Urban Fantasy is to bring them back and let the loose in a new generation’s imagination. The origins of demons, the types of soul collectors and reapers, the difference between a ghost and a wraith. This sort of research is how I spend my writing days. And boy am I going to have fun sharing it! 🙂

Until next time,

Janis Hill. XXOO

 

 
2 Comments

Posted by on December 28, 2014 in Writing

 

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I’m on tour with Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My!

So it’s been a week since Isis, Vampires and Ghosts – Oh My! was let loose into the world and so far so good. In the mean time I’ve not been sitting there waiting for the money to roll in as, well, that’s not how it works for an emerging Author and not what I set out to achieve. I write as I enjoy it and I share my stories in the hopes others will enjoy it too. And, so far so good! 🙂

What I have been doing this week is a virtual book tour with Bewitching Book Tours, and I’m loving it! I highly recommend any emerging Author wanting to get their books noticed (whether paper or an eBook) to invest in a virtual book tour. And I highly recommend Roxanne at Bewitching Book Tours if you’re writing in the paranormal or urban fantasy genre.

Yes I know a virtual book tour doesn’t physically take you anywhere and it’s not as glamorous as being able to swan in and out of a book store smiling for pics and signing autographs… but let’s face it fellow emerging Authors – that isn’t going to happen for the majority of us, no matter how good our books are.

Don’t poo poo the virtual book tour as it is a fantastic way to get exposure to your work. Throw in a give-away to entice the readers and you can double your following of fans on social media. Now you have their attention though, it is up to you to keep it. The tour has done its magic and it’s now time to do your own.

A virtual book tour is definitely a worthy investment – if you find the right one that best matches your work – and shows your book off to far more people interested in that genre than an ad on say Facebook ever could. Go the virtual book tour! 🙂

As for me, what am I doing on my tour? Well, below you will find my schedule. I technically should have blogged about this last Monday when it started but my sharing and caring hordes have passed on a couple of different winter bugs to me and so I’m a little behind in my asset shaking. Still, the links to where I’ve already been are still valid so please feel free to go check them out. Not just for my work but for the other awesome Authors out there shaking their assets just as hard.

My tour schedule:

September 1 Guest blog
Mythical Books
http://www.mythicalbooks.blogspot.ro/

September 2 Spotlight
Cassandra M’s Place
http://www.cassandramsplace.com/

September 3 Interview
Pembroke Sinclair.  
http://www.pembrokesinclair.blogspot.com.au/2014/09/isis-vampires-and-ghosts-oh-my-by-janis.html

September 4 Spotlight
3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy,Sissy. Too!  
http://3partnersinshopping.blogspot.com/

September 5 Spotlight
Deal Sharing Aunt
www.dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com

September 8 Spotlight
Lisa’s World of Books
http://www.lisasworldofbooks.net/

September 9 Spotlight
Jodie Pierce’s Ink Slinger’s Blog
http://www.jodiepierceauthor.blogspot.com/

September 10 Interview
Roxanne’s Realm 
http://www.roxannerhoads.com/

September 11 Guest blog
Fang-tastic Books
http://www.fang-tasticbooks.blogspot.com/

September 12 Guest blog
The Creatively Green Write at Home Mom
http://www.creativelygreen.blogspot.com/

September 15 Interview 
Bewitching Book Tours Magazine
www.issuu.com/bewitchingbooktours

September 16 Top Ten List
Darkest Cravings
www.darkestcravings.blogspot.com

September 17 Spotlight
Deal Sharing Aunt
http://www.dealsharingaunt.blogspot.com/

September 18 Spotlight
Soaring Eagle Publicity 
http://www.soaringeaglepublicity.com/

September 19 Interview
Eclipse Reviews
http://www.totaleclipsereviews.blogspot.com/

September 20 Spotlight
Cover Reveals 
http://coverreveals.blogspot.com/

September 22 Character Interview
Author Karen Swart
http://authorkarenswart.blogspot.com/

September 23 Spotlight
Sapphyria’s Book Reviews 
http://saphsbookblog.blogspot.com/

September 24 Top Ten Comfort Foods
Review
Cabin Goddess
http://www.cabingoddess.com/

September 25 Spotlight
Share My Destiny
http://sharemydestiny.blogspot.com/

September 25 Review
Paranormal Romance and Authors That Rock
http://www.pratr.wordpress.com/

September 26 Spotlight
CBY Book Club
http://cbybookclub.blogspot.co.uk/

September 29 Guest blog
VampChix
http://www.vampchix.blogspot.com/

September 30 Interview and review
happy tails and tales 
http://magluvsya03.wordpress.com/

**Please note: I have been having difficulties with WordPress actually REMEMBERING the links in the list. I have added them repeatedly and they work… and then they stop working. It is a WordPress fault. So if a link is not working, please just copy it and paste it into a new browsing window. Sorry about this, but as said – this is a WordPress fault.

There you have it, my virtual book tour. I hope to see you around the sites and there is always the option for you to come and say hi to me on my Author page on Facebook or to tweet me on Twitter.

I’ve really enjoyed the interviews and blog posts I’ve done so far and I send out a big thanks to Roxanne and all the people who opted in to host me on this tour. You are all awesome and emerging Authors appreciate your help… well, this one does anyway. Thank You!

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Why the world needs to stop looking down its nose at eBook Authors.

Yes this sounds like I’m about to launch into one of my froth at the mouth rants usually saved up to annoy friends and family on Facebook, but it’s not.

I will admit that the attitude towards eBook Authors is a pet peeve of mine as it’s usually as derogatory and demeaning as those ‘well-meaning souls’ who ask a House Wife/ Hubby why they can’t go out and get a real job. As I am also a self-committed Haus Frau, perhaps there is a biased to both these opinions… but I’m not here to turn them into chips on my shoulders or, as said, rant… merely try and point out that eBook Authors are real authors too. We won’t go into House Wife’s as all I can say to those dear souls is the next time you’re accused of just sitting around on your bum all day and not actually doing any work – do it. Trust me, the results are fun. 😉

So, yes, eBook Authors… are you sick of people not taking you seriously as an eBook isn’t a real book and any man and his dog can get published? Well, I know I am! No, I don’t need my little soap box to stand on for this, honest. I just wanted to start by saying it does still take a lot to be published, no matter how you do it, and it doesn’t just end with writing a story.

Okay, so yes there are a lot of eBooks out there flooding the market, but they’re not all of the same quality… or lack thereof. To start with, there are the big names in publishing houses cottoning on to the new technology of eBooks and converting works of their contracted  – big names I may add – Authors to eBooks. Quite a few of my favourite Authors have been converted to eBooks after being worldwide sensations in paper form.

Then there are Authors who have made a name for themselves in paper book that are now out of publication contract and so have the rights to their work again. What do they do? Self-publish to cut out the middle man and keep all the royalties themselves. Some of these Authors have massive fan followings that have happily moved over to reading their work as eBooks and good on them. But I think that is where the fear and negativity is setting in throughout the publishing world… as if an Author doesn’t need a publisher or a literary agent and*gasp* keeps all the sales money for themselves… Oh the horror! And up springs the nasty remarks about self-publishing and eBooks are for those who aren’t ‘real’ Authors. If publishers can’t make money out of the situation… it can’t be good and honest work. Right? Please note, this is a theory.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, there is some absolute drivel out there thanks to how easy it is to self-publish and I won’t deny it. Yes, but have you seen some of the drivel you get in paper books too? I’m not just looking at the Vanity Press stuff either… Though they did get a long, hard look to start with. 😉

Self-publishing does indeed have the down side that every man and his dog – and from some evidence the dog was the editor (that’s how bad it is) – can now be an Author. And because of the profusion of work now out there – good, bad and downright ug-lee – we all get tarred with the same brush. ‘Oh you’re an Author!’ says a stranger and their eyes light up… Only to go dull and uninterested when you go on to say your work is in eBook format. Please, have you even bothered to read an eBook by anyone before you make this judgement? Or is it okay to just make it on something you don’t know or haven’t tried because that’s what ‘real book’ types do? Seriously, weren’t you taught as kids to at least try something before making a judgement? Oops, starting to rant, will do my best to pull up before I nose dive.

Okay, so I will freely admit here and now that I’m not saying my work is award winningly brilliant and that the stigma of it being an eBook is why it’s not a world famous title… no, my books are good but I am an emerging Writer who has a lot of exposure and experience still to gather. I may get acclaim one day… I may just continue on as I am making enough for my chocolatier hits. But the fact that the writing societies that I now belong to still look down their noses at eBook Authors, I’m embarrassed… and not for myself, but for them.

So what if I’m an eBook Author? For my second book I was offered the opportunity to be published in paper… and I chose a publishing contract with my current eBook publisher over this other deal. Why? Well, I like my current publisher and have faith in their ability to help me achieve my dream of Brownie money from my royalties. 🙂

In this day and age how is a publisher of eBooks any different than that of a paper book publisher? Well, for one thing the royalties given to the Author are higher for an eBook. For another, the publisher’s running costs are lower and therefore their eBooks are more affordable to the general public. It still costs to get something published, even an eBook. For me there is the artist for the cover design, the proof reader and editor to go over my work and hopefully remove the majority of the stuff ups and typos through to the advertising and ‘asset shaking’ once it’s published. And I admit I’ve not paid a cent… as it’s all covered in my publishing contract. Just because I am a published eBook Author, this does not mean my publisher a modern day vanity press or a self-publishing sight that accepts anything that comes with a cheque attached. My publisher is a real publisher who certainly doesn’t accept any old thing but does happen to focus on eBooks. And, surprise! My books are real books too. They still get registered with an ISBN and deemed a ‘published work’ by the literary world (whether they look down their nose or not). The only difference with my work is it just isn’t printed out on paper. And in the paperless society we’re trying to become, isn’t that a good thing?

Let’s all remember that just because someone has written a book that can only be found in eformat doesn’t mean it’s not a real book, it’s not a good story and that they are not a good Writer… Or even deserve their own ‘I’m an Author’ badge – homemade or otherwise. The world’s attitude needs to change as we eBook Authors are here to stay and looking down your nose at us just makes you look kind of funny. 😉

Until next time,

Janis. XXOO

 
8 Comments

Posted by on February 14, 2014 in Writing

 

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