I was a little late hopping on the Publicity Express, but it seems to have caught up with me all at once, in the space of a few short weeks. In fact, Here. Have an interview. Author Jeffrey Ricker wrote it, and he is not only one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet, but also a great writer. Buy his books.
On Sunday I read at the West Hollywood library with a number of other Lambda finalists. Let me tell you, it was nerve-wracking. I’m not afraid of public speaking. In fact, I rather enjoy it. But the writers who read before me were so immensely talented–not to mention the ones in the audience whose work I had admired for years–that by the time I got to the podium, my hands and voice were shaking!
I had to remind myself that my work was Not Utter Crap in *somebody’s* opinion, or I wouldn’t have been there. And the people that I talked to were *so unbelievably friendly and awesome*. Still, I felt a little out of place reading my detective story sandwiched between swathes of Deep Personal Revelations wrapped in unassailable, lyrical prose. It sounded sort of like this:
OTHER READERS: insert something searching, reflective, and poignant that sounds like a Booker-, Orange- or Pulitzer-winning selection read on NPR
JESS FARADAY: “…and then I coshed him on the head with a brick….”
Which is not to say that I’m slagging off my own work. In fact, I got a good laugh out of it, and so did my mom. We have a philosophy in our family that no experience is too egregious if you can get a good story out of it. And we tell stories. With voices. And standing up to illustrate with full-body slapstick. It’s the Irish in us. Except the Polish side does it too. What can I say? We’re an international herd of wiseass.
Which got me thinking about the difference between “literary” and “genre” fiction. A lot of people get really steamed up about which is “better” (ie; the one that they write or enjoy). The way I see it, there are two main differences: literary fiction tends to focus on internal conflict while genre fiction focuses on external conflict. Also, literary fiction gets a lot of critical and academic praise from the few really really smart people who read it, while genre fiction–which is given an unfair amount of leeway for sloppy writing–enjoys a much larger audience.
So the humor, here, at least for me, is in the thematic discrepancy between the selections we read on Sunday, not in any discrepancy of quality.
Thinky moment over.
Am very excited that my next novel, The Left Hand of Justice is about a day’s work away from being submission-ready. The deadline on the contract is June 13, and there were times, I tell you, when I had my doubts–both that it would be finished on time, and that it would be fit to read, rather than to hurl across the room in disgust.
I gave myself exactly half the time to write it that it took to write Porcelain Dog. This is because, (a) After writing Porcelain Dog I figured I knew what I was doing. (b) I was moving to a full-time writing schedule, rather than a few dedicated hours a week. and (c) I wanted to challenge myself.
And I’m happy to say that not only will LHOJ be finished ahead of schedule, but I will be very, very proud of the finished result.
The next book in the queue will be Turnbull House the sequel to Porcelain Dog. I’ve already got the story highlights down. Now it’s time to work on the full-body slapstick.