I went to Barnes & Noble tonight and spent some time going through the SF/fantasy aisle. I was looking for two things: books by independent publishers, and books that were sort of similar to the ones I write. Oh, and something to read. Because you can never have enough books.
I did find a few indie published books, notably Juno, which pleased me because I was looking at their website yesterday and was impressed enough to put them on my "good" list. But I couldn't find anything even remotely similar to my stuff, which I'm not sure is a good or bad thing. If there were books available like the ones I write, I'd be reading them instead of writing them. Reading's a lot easier than writing. But since I can't find anything similar to what I write, maybe it'll never get published because no one's interested. Dilemma.
I could not, in fact, find anything I wanted to read. Nothing. Part of it may have been my headache, and part of it may be the fact that I'm trying to read five books simultaneously right now, but nothing appealed to me--not even remotely. I'm in the mood for something fairly light, but all the books I looked at that claimed to be satires or comedies of some sort were all, well, cruddy. I had high hopes for one called something like The All Fright Diner, but I read two pages in and discovered I didn't like the two main characters and, more to the point, didn't care about them even a smidgen. So what if they were a vampire and a werewolf? I write about those too, and frankly mine are more interesting. Even in the first two pages.
Oh, and let's talk werewolves, shall we? Limyaael, whose blog of fantasy rants is remarkable and entertaining, has ranted about werewolves many times; one of the things she says is "I usually don’t read books with werewolf characters anymore. The chances that the writer will do something new with them is extremely slim."
I so, so agree. I picked up a bunch of books with wolves on the covers or spines, hoping to find something unusual. Nope. And I was really hoping to find a book about, you know, a were-something-besides-wolf, but if there were any I missed them. I should mention that my Beloved Masterpiece has as its main character a weredeer, and I have had many happy hours inventing a society of wereanimals that actually makes sense and treats the weres as creatures fully animal as well as fully human. If anyone knows of another author who's tried that (besides Pratchett, of course, who has some very believable and fun werewolves), please let me know. Until then, I'm following Limyaael and grouping all werewolf fantasies as "angsty" and boring.
Same with vampires, except let me add that I am a teeny tiny bit over the sexy vampire motif. Recently someone in the Absolute Write forums asked the question, "What are your vampires like?" Lots of people replied (including me). Vampires are that common in novels these days, of practically any genre it seems. Which brings me to another little problem. When I was looking at books this evening, I kept running across those cross-genre fantasy romances. Shelved in the fantasy section. It might help you, at this point, to imagine me jumping up and down and screaming in frustrated rage. Look, the romance aisle takes up quite enough space as it is--keep your stupid clinch covers out of the SF/fantasy aisle, okay? I'm not interested in paint-by-numbers reading. Not even if sexy vampires are involved, because it's all been done so often and so predictably.
In the end, I didn't buy anything at B&N. (Well, okay, I bought a logic puzzle book, but that doesn't really count.) I came home and finished reading Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett, which surprised me since I really did think The Subtle Knife was going to win the "which book will I finish first?" contest. I'd be more upset about not finding anything to read at B&N if I didn't have a stack of exciting and wonderful books at home already.