For a long time, I’ve been trying to find some balance in my writing life. A balance between finding enough time for my passion and stopping it bleeding into family time. A balance between creating words and reading them. A balance between consuming story-telling in books and story-telling on screens. A balance between my words being a dark and my words being hopeful. A balance between finding a niche and diversifying my portfolio.
The start of this year for me has been about renewal. I have one more book to write in my trio of books for my publisher, which means I have the space to look at the landscape and adjust what flows from my pen. If I spread my wings and diversify my work, where would that take me? How can I focus my work to accelerate my progress and my learning?
When I realised, I wondered why I hadn’t seen it sooner. A quick look at my bookshelves, my Kindle and my backlist would have told me as much. Much of my literary fiction (the circus in Hidden Colours, the surrealism in The Tombstone Man and the Coming of the Tigress) has a magical realism bend.
Fantasy is a love of mine alongside literary fiction. Some of my favourite storytellers are Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter, Ursula K. Le Guin, Neil Gaiman and Erin Morgenstern. I read it and I watch it on screen too. Harry Potter, Marvel and Netflix mean that fantasy has long since broken into mainstream culture and has overtaken realist narratives in popularity.
I won’t be abandoning my literary fiction. It’s always going to be my first love, and in fact, I’m now nearly a third through the first draft of An Ocean of Masks. But I’ll also be writing fantasy, specifically a young adult urban fantasy series, under the pen name N. Z. Nasser. I’m so excited to start shaping this new world.
The age range for young adult fiction is 12-18 years old although research shows that half of YA readers are adults. What I love most is the balance the two strands will bring to my work. Literary fiction is often about surviving the world. YA fiction is about saving it. And the world can be so dark that sometimes that saving it–at least on paper–seems a whole heap of fun.
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Happy weekend, all.