Today, I’m taking centre stage in the Writers on the Wrong Side of the Road Blog Blast, with a few thoughts on the fine art of taking a risk…
When was the last time you took a risk when it comes to fiction? Deciding to pick up a book by an author you’ve never heard of, rather than choosing the latest bestseller that’s been advertised with fifty shades of hype? Walk into the majority of bookshops, at least here in the UK, and you’ll be confronted by piles of books by familiar names on very familiar themes. It’s all chick lit, Scandinavian crime thrillers and werewolf/vampire love triangles, with publishers relentlessly playing follow my leader in search of sales. Walk past those towering piles, the ‘three for the price of two’ offers, towards those neglected shelves at the back of the shop and you’ll find interesting books by unfamiliar writers, but how many people bother to do that? The way books are marketed, It’s no surprise the industry is now dominated by no more than a couple of hundred authors, and it’s becoming ever harder for new voices to be heard unless they fit into the narrow slot of what publishers want this season.
As writers, we take risks all the time. When we send a manuscript to a submissions editor, we run the risk of having it rejected. If we present it to a critique group, we risk harsh appraisal, even from people who know and like our work. So what should we do? Stick the story in a drawer and run the risk no one will ever read it?
Writers on the Wrong Side of the Road appealed to me as a project because it was designed specifically to take risks. Mashing up genres that don’t often find a home together, giving authors free rein to explore unusual and possibly controversial topics, offering an opportunity, above all, to have fun… Who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?
The lead character in my story, For Art’s Sake, also finds herself taking risks, forced by circumstances to step out of her comfort zone. First, when her secure teaching job comes to an end and she has to reinvent her career, going into the house clearing business with her brother. Then, when she meets a man who offers the romance she’s been craving, spiced up with something that appeals to her more adventurous sexual tastes. Not to mention that he’s taking something of a risk himself, by revealing needs to her that some women find peculiar or even distasteful. Can they find happiness together? You’ll just have to pick up a copy of the anthology and find out, won’t you?
Writers on the Wrong Side of the Road is available from the Clayton Bye bookstore.