This might be too personal and it will have some Dangerous Metal spoilers so I’m going to put it behind a cut. (Yes, even though I don’t believe in them…spoilers, I believe in read more cuts…) I will do more posts about formatting and publishing, this is sort of the how it was to write it and such.
Dangerous Metal is a very close story. It is incredibly personal and tight on the protagonist. It is a story I feel wouldn’t be at all the same if you moved it out even to 3rd person. So much of the story is about what happens inside Eva’s head and how her brain works that a big part of the story is about being that close. I keep saying it is a personal story, but I’ll bet there is a better word for this. I mean personal as the opposite of a story like a space opera where we don’t get in super close and spend all the time inside one person’s head. It isn’t about the fate of the world, it isn’t about a giant epic thing. It is only about Eva, it is entirely about Eva. Don’t get me wrong what Eva does has a broader impact on her world, but that’s not what the story is really about.
What is it?
It was hard to write. Actually, it wasn’t that bad to write, but when I wrote it…it was part love story, part political story, part messy. Those weren’t really the right story to tell in this book though. Editing it was painful. The first and primary edit was an overhaul. (This isn’t exactly true, there was one edit round before this upon reflection…but I’m going to call it the first because I can…) They are recognizable as related but …maybe like distant cousins. (And no one would believe me if I told you what the first draft of the first book was, before this one!) While doing the big big edit I was all twisted up, writing the parts with the antagonist I nearly always finished those scenes feeling gross and dirty. It was hard. There was more than one “Am I a horrible human being for writing this?!” moment. I’m still not sure about the answer.
Then I set the book aside. For a year.
This past winter I started to review where I was at with the book, what else it needed and what was I going to do with it.
I made the decision to self-publish for a few reasons. I like to maintain my rights. I know that there are lots of problems with smaller publishing houses, I have no doubt some are amazing, and I am sure that most of the people who start them do so for the same reasons I started the podcast (to be able to say “HEY WORLD! Look at these awesome authors! Pay attention to these really works!), but business is hard and transitions are hard and things sometimes get messy. I (of course) wanted to do my own audio. And in the spirit of being way to honest, which is apparently what this post is about, I kind of think this book is unsellable.
Yup. I wrote this book with no eyes to the market, no sitting down and figuring out my target audience, no understanding the best genres and the way to position myself or anything. I wrote this book because this was the book I wanted to write.
This book is cyberpunk with no real noir elements. It is thriller without being full of fancy guns and military jargon. It is cyborg woman with no sex (anymore). It is a female lead with a male love interest, but there is no romance. It is revenge without being fulfilling or sweet. It is cold, it is unglamorous, it is a punch in the gut. (All things from beta readers.) Which I don’t think is bad. But is isn’t easy to say, “Oh my market is X.” Or even my book is X genre. I’ve been calling it a cyberpunk thriller, but I feel like that misses that it is also about the way your brain will fail you and your body will betray you. It misses that yeah this book is going to talk about spousal abuse, but it is also not really going to talk about it. It might make you deeply uncomfortable the way the people around her respond, the way she responds. It doesn’t mean it’s wrong, but that it is. This book will probably make you uncomfortable. And that’s really hard to market. Read my book! Feel uncomfortable! Feel twisted up inside! Yay…?
I finally decided that it needed to be done. Even if no one reads it. I need to put it out and move onto the next thing. Not quite kill your darlings, but maybe let your darlings grow up. So I buckled down and did the narration. Dangerous Metal was hard. I’d work at the studio, in work mode. The moment I was done, on more than one occasion I broke down into tears. It wracked me through and through. Editing was hard, but saying those things aloud was extremely hard. Having to say the things that Ernie says aloud, and do everything I can to make them believable? Like being punched in the gut. The scene with Terk and Ernie? Oh I’d been so focused on the house scene I totally set that one aside and reading it was a wallop.
One more piece (I hope only one more…this post is already long) is that this book also got …interesting feedback from beta readers. One person asked me if I hated men. I never did get a clear reason of why that question was raised. But it did really twist me up, for a long long time (honestly, still does). (For the record no. I don’t hate men. WTF.)
Done! Thank you!
If you’ve made it this far, thank you! I appreciate your time.