I’m a big fan of your books, so I was pleased when I wandered into Chapters-Indigo in Vancouver and saw that they were showcasing Slow River. Have a look:
I hope they sell many copies. Thank you for writing such wonderful stories.
It’s my pleasure. And thanks for sending the picture. It’s pretty cool to see Slow River classified as a thriller–though now I recall that when the book first came out Ballantine spent some time and effort positioning it as a “near-future thriller.” Hmmm, I’d forgotten that.
People often ask me: Where will I find your books shelved? And I have to tell them: It depends on the tastes of the bookseller. I’ve seen, for example, Slow River classified as literary fiction, lesbian fiction, near-future thriller, hard science fiction, dystopian fiction, noir, industrial fiction, erotic fiction, a braided novel, and cyberpunk. Every bookstore a new adventure. Sometimes this is a good thing because readers who might not have picked up something labelled SF are intrigued by the notion of, say, women living an underground, underclass existence in the near future. Sometimes, well, not, especially if a reader actively looking for a hard science tale of a woman in a bad situation who uses biology and chemistry to survive wanders into a bookshop that classifies it as noir.
I amuse (and horrify) myself by trying to imagine how Hild will be categorised by booksellers and readers. Two things I’m sure of: it’s not a Western, and it’s not Satire. But as for the rest, eh, I could probably make a case for it being at least ten genres. Officially, though, it will be billed as something like A brilliant, lush, literary historical novel about the rise of the most powerful woman of the Early Middle Ages: Hild.
But that won’t be for nine months. So next time you’re in Chapters-Indigo, please thank the booksellers for me. It’s lovely to know that those on the front lines, who interact with the people no writer can do without–the readers–are paying attention. Putting a book face out on the shelf makes a big difference. And the company Slow River is keeping is pretty cool, too. I had quotes for Aud books from both Laurie King and Val McDermid–and Val’s quote (“Without Aud it’s hard to see how they could have been a Lisbeth Salander”) makes this set up even more cozy. It’s a small world; novels bring us all closer.
4 thoughts on “Driven by strong women”
I often think about your discussion of “tags” versus “genre” in situations like this.
Yes. In ebook discovery world it's easier to simply tag the book: lesbian, sf, thriller etc. and then everyone who's searching under those tags can find it. There again, I'm not in charge of the tagging, the publisher is.
I always thought the elevator pitch for Slow River was “A lesbian romantic thriller set in a near-future sewage treatment plant.”
Well, I would never call it a romance :) But there is love, of a kind, and–of course–lots of sex.
One tag line that's quite accurate (to a degree) is: A novel of sewage and abuse. But that makes it sound so grim!
I've also described it as a novel of the essential self. It's also hard sf (lots of biology and chemistry). And an ecological thriller.
And there's so much essential joy in the book, too. People always seem to forget that. Maybe because the sewage and abuse eclipse the message…
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