An Offering of Onions: Why my Tales are Complex

Genre: Fantasy… but that doesn’t quite cover it.

Subgenre: Dark Fantasy… but that doesn’t do it either. There’s history and magic realism and folklore from three different continents, and Appalachia too.

Pairing(s): this isn’t Romance but… (heavy sigh and a minor sob)

By the time I finished filling out all the keywords, labels, and searchable terms for Striking Balance before its release I was thoroughly stressed. Why? Because my writing has never been easy to define.

If you haven’t figured it out by now. This post has nothing to do with The Onion or satire whatsoever.

You see, I’m an onion-ish writer, meaning my stories are layered.

You see, I’m an onion-ish writer, meaning my stories are layered. They’re complex and you need to unpack them as you read. The same goes for my characters and for me. I’m complicated, multifaceted, but aren’t we all? Or at least we should be in my opinion.

But perhaps that’s why some readers don’t appreciate layered tales. They come to stories not wanting to think, wanting to have it all handed to them on a platter, simply, “Here, a two-hour read with a cookie-cutter plot and 2D characters.” Okay, admittedly, those stories have their place and they sell well because they’re escapist. My tales are not. But people make the assumption that Fantasy and Sci-Fi stories that also contain LGBTQIA+ content are just that – escapist. They come to my stories expecting light reading and get handed an onion.

And that onion reflects me. I am Appalachian. I am physically disabled. I am nonbinary. I am a parent. I am rediscovering my love for mixed media. And I am full of subplots including gardening, witchy ways, vegetarianism, and cats.

You’ll find all of these and other facets appear in my novels because I write close to home.

But back to picking genres and labels for my tales. I don’t fit into boxes on the page or in real life. Reviewers have complained that my stories are too long. Complex tales usually are. They’ve complained that they have too many characters to keep track of. Have you met my family that includes my twenty-plus first cousins? And who only knows and interacts with one or two people on a regular basis anyway? Reviewers have also complained that my tales are nonlinear. Are our thoughts always linear? Are our actions always linear? Do we go through our existence, the mundane aside, in a fully linear fashion? (If you do, how very boring.) Life is full of starts and stops, leaps forward that result in fallbacks. We sometimes run in circles, and we most certainly end up on side quests, but we do reach our destination at some point. This doesn’t mean my plots meander, rather it means they reflect reality more than point A to B storytelling.

So I’m an onion who doesn’t like labels or boxes… or simplicity.

I also take issue with being caught between worlds. I’ve been told my work is too literary for genre labels. But then I’ve also been told my work is genre so it can’t possibly hold a literary label. And, lastly, I’ve been told my fiction isn’t LGBTQIA+ because I write FTB (fade to black) or no sex at all in my tales. (I take huge issue with this, but that’s a topic for another post). Some days I feel I’m nothing but amaryllis adrift in the abyss (terrible wordplay but I’ll not apologize). This includes my not writing to market, which means I’ll never make any real income with my writing, something I’ve come to terms with, more so since I’ve seen many a writer acquaintance’s personalities change when they begin writing to market in the name of profit. I get it. I do. And I don’t blame them. It’s a food-on-the-table issue, and I might have done the same at another point in my existence. However, I now choose to focus my limited energies (my spoons if you know anything about spoon theory) on what I enjoy most. Besides, I’ve become rather fond of these onions I’ve cultivated.

I’ve become rather fond of these onions I’ve cultivated.

Simply put. I don’t fit in, so I’ll just keep doing what I do, which is as it suits me. I’ll publish with small, like-minded presses, apply labels only because it’s required for publication, and offer carefully crafted onions to those in search of layered, complex tales with vivid worlds and characters you’d like to grab a cuppa with.

You’re welcome to as many as you wish, but I highly recommend my current series because those onions contain layers most similar to my current self.

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