June 12, 2013

What's Your Book About?: a guest post by John Mantooth, author of "The Year of the Storm"

John Mantooth (@busfulloflosers) is an award-winning author whose short stories have been recognized in numerous year's best anthologies. His short fiction has been published in Fantasy Magazine, Crime Factory, Thuglit, and the Stoker winning anthology, Haunted Legends (Tor, 2010), among others.  His first book, Shoebox Train Wreck, was released in March of 2012 from Chizine Publications. His debut novel, The Year of the Storm, is slated for a June 2013 release from Berkley. He lives in Alabama with his wife, Becky, and two children.

What's Your Book About
by John Mantooth

What’s your book about?”

It’s a question I’ve heard over and over for the last few months.  It’s always the first thing people ask when they find out I have a book coming out, followed closely by “is it fiction?” and “can I buy it at Barnes and Noble?” (I believe this last one is actually a way of the person trying to determine if it’s self-published or not. The idea being that if they can actually walk into a brick and mortar store and walk out with my book, then I am a real writer.)

It’s about this kid whose mom and sister go missing, and then this old man shows up at his door and…”

And they’re gone.  Eyes distant, heads nodding in that way people nod when they want you to hurry up and stop talking.  For a while, this behavior perplexed me.  I mean, why would they ask if they didn’t really want to know the answer?  Then it dawned on me.  They don’t really want specifics.  They want generalities.  They want genre.

Which is where it gets dicey.  I could say my book’s a mystery.  That’s acceptable, but it’s also misleading.  Thriller sounds good, but that tends to make people think of Harlen Coben, and I ain’t Harlen Coben (not that there’s anything wrong with that).  I finally started calling it Southern Gothic, but only because I was trying to avoid calling it what it really was.  See, it’s sort of a dirty word.   Yeah, that dirty word.

Oh, the horror.

This is what happens when you tell people your book is horror: they recoil, crinkling their noses in barely hidden disdain.  They make faces that can alternately be interpreted as condescending or (worse) pitying.  They walk away, and quite frequently they make the quick and final decision that you are one of those writers, which is to say not a real writer worthy of their attention.

But you know what?  I don’t care anymore.  I’m coming out today, holding my book proudly in front of me.  It’s a horror book.  I’m a horror writer.  And not only that, you can buy it at Barnes and Noble.  So there.

Thanks to John for stopping by the blog. If anyone is interested in getting their hands on a copy of The Year of the Storm, you can find it listed on Amazon.com.

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