Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Guest Blog: There Are So Many Stories by Jean Brashear


There are so many stories I want to share, so many tales I want to write. So many places I want to go in my head, so many what ifs I want to explore.

That's the beauty of indie publishing—for years now, I've had all kinds of characters I wanted to inhabit, countless situations I wanted to put myself in. I see a man walking fast away from an empty corner, no begging sign, no backpack, no car in sight...no obvious reason for him to be there, and...I wonder. My mind starts spinning out scenarios—where did he come from? Where is he headed? Maybe he's, I don't know, lost a dog or is an undercover agent or couldn't stand his job one more second or is wandering aimlessly, lost after a tragedy...

Or I hear a song—songs are small stories, after all—and I have to know what came before and what will happen after. That woman who left her man for the bright lights...is he waiting still? Did she ever come back? How powerful was that reunion? My mind conjures up more stories in a day than I'll ever live long enough to write...and I still want to try to write them all.

But what I don't want to do is write the same story, over and over. And that's exactly what traditional publishing wants a writer to do—find a groove that appeals to as large an audience of readers as possible...and stay there. Plow that field, that furrow, over and over and over. Except, of course, be original while doing it. Just not too original.

It's not the fault of the editors, who are every bit as avid and dedicated about stories as their writers. It's just business. Businesses have to make a profit or they don't stay in business; there's nothing evil about that. But it denies the very nature of a writer because we're all about hmmm, what if I....? I remember once hearing an interview with Patricia Cornwell in which she was literally begging her readers, please do not make me write Kay Scarpetta forever. I know you love her; I love her, too, but I need to spread my wings and try other things. Fly with me. Let me do this, and I promise you that both of us will be happier. (Though not verbatim, of course.)

But I get wanting a writer you love to keep writing characters you love. Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series...I just want more and more and more of Jamie and Claire, don't you? Sir John is fine as a character within their stories, but Sir John by himself? Not for me, thank you. J K Rowling move on from Harry Potter? But, Ms. Rowling, couldn't you please just go back and have Voldemort, I don't know, reanimate or something? So we could watch Harry and Hermione and Ron go battle evil some more? I'm glad Nora Roberts has Eve Dallas and Roarke moving along at the rate of a month in their time takes two years in ours or whatever it is. I LOVE them. I can't bear to think of Jamie or Claire dying. I get it, I do.

So that's where indie publishing comes in. I've written all kinds of stories I never even tried to get published. I've got scads of ideas in my head. Maybe none of them will appeal to the audience I've been fortunate to have thus far, but with me as my publisher, I can decide to take that risk. Instead of tens of thousands, maybe I'll only have hundreds...or tens. Or ones. But that's okay because I get to crawl inside the skins of a wild array of characters via this route. It doesn't mean I don't want to write for the wonderful fans who've taken me to their hearts thus far—I do. I still like to tell a good, emotional romance.

But I've discovered I can be funny and not always gut-wrenchingly serious. I love to write suspense...and I can explore topics like obsession and delve into fantasies of a dark lover who will scorch your socks off, the way the reclusive, powerful, sorcerer figure named Dante Sabanne takes a no-nonsense cop like Jace Carroll and makes her question who she is and what she believes in SURRENDER. Or create an ancient Chinese legend that tears two lovers apart...until Lily and Damon and the Jade Dragon in THE PEARL OF PARADISE.

Or there's this four-book YA series I have sketched out. And there was the quirky tale I wrote for my own enjoyment that became THE GODDESS OF FRIED OKRA, for which I am unbelievably lucky that readers are asking for a sequel I'm actually mulling over.

So many stories I want to share...and now I can, thanks to the miracle of ebooks.

I am one lucky writer.

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