What’s this book about and where does it fit?
Ever since I got my book deal last autumn, I’ve been fumbling with the inevitable, perfectly natural question of, “So what’s your book about?” Maybe I’m over-thinking it but I find this question difficult.
The first thing that makes my book hard to explain is the fact that it doesn’t fall neatly into a genre — and I’m not just saying that to try to sound cool and transcendent and stuff. If the book was about sorceresses with magic necklaces and metal undies I could say it was fantasy. If it was peopled with smoochy vampires it would be paranormal romance. If it was about stabby psychopaths I could call it a crime novel. If it prattled on about dating and shopping it would be chick-lit. But it’s none of those things. It’s kind of lovey-dovey, a bit creepy in parts. It’s a little otherworldly yet it’s realistic and earthy.
When I was still submitting the manuscript, still ticking boxes in search engines of databases listing publishers’ interests, the box that fit best was called “literary fiction.” And it’s the classification now stamped on the back cover of the book. However, it’s also a term that gets sneered at for its elitist implications. Who’s to say what’s of literary merit, and on and on and on… Still, if for no other reason than its acknowledgement that a flashy, racing story-line can come second to arty, thematic prose, literary fiction is the category that suits the novel best (she said, cringing, hoping not to sound elitist).
Another category fits simply because of my geography. It’s “Can-Lit” — Canadian literature. I am Canadian so, in some ways, I can’t help but write Canadian literature. I’ve fallen back on this description a few times. But Can-Lit has gained a character of its own over the years and when I offer it as an answer, I need to be prepared to embrace that character. I need to be able to wave my hand and believe myself when I say, “It’s CanLit — you know, bad weather and complicated relationships.”
Nothing I say is very precise or descriptive or satisfying for nice people asking about my book. So here’s a short Q&A with me about my novel. It appears in my publisher’s online literary mag, Salon .ll., and hopefully it will shed some light on what I’m writing and why someone might want to read it. Go ahead and click the link below.