where the writers are
Getting Fantasy Fiction Readers: Suggestions Needed
bibliomaniac
Amazon.com Amazon.com
Powell's Books Powell's Books

I'm delighted to join the Red Room community, and I have a favor to ask of my new writer and reader friends, both here at Red Room and visiting from cyberspace.  I have been following a creative track for quite a long while now that has delivered me, I believe, deeply into the world of fantasy.  It's a venerable literary tradition.  (Whenever I'm asked-as every writer is eventually asked-what one book I'd take to a desert island, I invariably say The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov.)

In case you're not familiar with my body of work, I've published four books that have roots in the world of fantasy.  My book of stories (Tabloid Dreams, Henry Holt, 1996) is based on the sort of headlines found in newspapers like The Sun and The Weekly World News.  Indeed, a story from that collection, "JFK Secretly Attends Jackie Auction" was chosen for inclusion in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror: Tenth Annual Collection.  (Another story, "Jealous Husband Returns in Form of Parrot" is very widely anthologized in classrooms and is clearly a work of fantasy.)  I wrote a novel entitled Mr. Spaceman (Grove Press, 2000) with the narrator being a spaceman who has temporarily kidnapped a charter bus full of gamblers heading for a Louisiana casino in order to interview them in preparation for publicly revealing himself to humankind.  I wrote a book of 62 short short stories (Severance, Chronicle Books, 2006) giving voice to the last minute-and-a-half of lingering consciousness in 62 recently severed heads (from Medusa and Cicero through The Lady in the Lake and Anne Boleyn and Sir Walter Raleigh to Jayne Mansfield and a Sunday-dinner chicken).  And my new novel, which has just now been published by Grove, is entitled Hell.  It is set entirely in that very place with a central character who is the anchorman for the TV Evening News in Hell.  (Hell is very very crowded, by the way, and it's set enough in the future so that some currently-living folks we all expect to see there actually do make an appearance.  As well, as, of course Cerberus, Satan, and assorted succubi.)

I still remain mostly unnoticed in the world of fantasy readers, however, though I think they would truly appreciate what I've been doing artistically.  And the fantasy readers I know are wonderfully slow readers, lingering over every moment-to-moment detail, something I preach ardently to the readers of mainstream literary fiction, who often tend to read too quickly.  The favor I ask, then, is for suggestions of how to reach out with my new book to the regular readers of fantasy.

Please leave me your suggestions in the comments section below. Thanks.

Comments
1 Comment count
Comment Bubble Tip

Fantasy is a broad genre.

Those of us who write speculative fiction (an even broader term which includes science fiction, horror, and fantasy) spend a fair amount of time trying to figure out how to label our work, and how to label the books we read. Fantasy, quickly, can be divided into high fantasy, science fantasy, humorous fantasy, dark fantasy, and urban fantasy. Your unique books may not fit into one of those subgenres, and they may not appeal to readers who, for example, only want to read about vampires and werewolves, or who love the high fantasy of George R. R. Martin. The big sellers of today are the urban fantasists. They write a very specific, narrow sort of story. Kat Richardson is an example of this sort of writer, and so is Charlaine Harris, who write a humorous vampire series. It just doesn't sound like your novels would appeal to their readers. I hope you won't think I'm being patronizing if I ask you what sort of fantasy you've read? In my knowledge of the field, it seems you're writing the sort of thing C. S. Lewis might have, which would be high praise, but would not necessarily make you a candidate for the readers of today's fantasy. I'm guessing you might be labeled a literary fantasist, along the lines of James Morrow, whose work I love, and Margaret Atwood, who flirts with fantasy but refuses to admit it. It's irritating to even have to think about labels, but it's the reality of marketing we all deal with! Best of luck in widening your readership. If you find out some wonderful truth, I hope you'll share it with all of us!