HAPPY WORLD BOOK DAY!
Today I’m delighted to welcome author
Michael J. Bowler
Guest post by Michael J. Bowler
With more than one of my books, readers have written that the story is unlike any they have read before. As a reader myself, I love unpredictable tales that aren’t photocopies of what I’ve already read. I do feel, however, that I’m in the minority in this regard. You know how children love hearing the same story over and over or watching the same videos over and over? I’ve come to the conclusion that most adults are the same. They want the same movies – just with different actors. They want the same books, just with different cover art and character names. I think this is why there are so many stories that are so similar, and so many reboots of older tales that continue to be cranked out. New spins on classic fairy tales are popular. Romance is one of biggest book genres, but romance books without all the familiar tropes don’t usually succeed in the marketplace. I think the same is true for mysteries and horror.
When I craft a story, I never think about what it’s similar too. Thus, when it’s finished and I want to submit it to agents or publishers, I can never find similar “comp” titles that those organizations demand. They want to know that my story is similar enough to something that has already been a bestseller or they’re not interested. My five-book contemporary urban fantasy Lance Chronicles series is ostensibly YA because the protagonist is fourteen in the first book and eighteen in the fifth, but there are prominent adult characters who drive the narrative and the book can easily be enjoyed by teens and adults. These books are so different from other books under the YA banner that I have nothing else to compare them too. My horror novel, Spinner, combines elements of The Omen and The Exorcist, but is too different from those stories to necessarily entice their fans.
My latest book, I Know When You’re Going To Die, has already been described as unusual because I use a first person narrator to tell a mystery thriller that some readers seem to think should be told in the third person. I guess I probably should pay more attention to what’s popular and write my books with those stories in mind because I’d likely be much more successful. But I write the stories that come into my head and populate them with characters I think are interesting. So, when I’m asked the question, “do you try to be original or to deliver to readers what they want,” I have to go with original. I need to love what I write or I can’t spend all the time necessary to craft it. I just have to hope there are at least a few readers out there who might love my stories, too.
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