BLUE FIRE by Janice Hardy released today. Some how, I switched the 10 and the 5 and thought it wasn't coming out until Friday even though new books come out on Tuesdays. I are dumb. So I get an email while riding the train into work saying the download is available. I turn on my nook's wifi to see if there's a signal on the train. There is. And I promptly download the new book, setting aside the two other books I'm still in the midst of completing (those being ROSEMARY AND RUE and JULIET). As a personal note, this is the first ebook I've ever pre-ordered.
I was introduced to Janice's first novel, THE SHIFTER, through Kristin Nelson's blog when she discussed the challenges of titles. (THE SHIFTER was originally titled THE PAIN MERCHANTS, which is a much cooler title but was thought it might inhibit the target market from buying this title.) Kristin being an agent I want to work with, I have looked over all the fantasy novels she has sold so far. Now, I'm a bit finicky in my fantasy tastes. If you give your main character a "cool name," it's an immediate turn off. This was the first of Kristin's fantasy novels that piqued my interest.
I actually passed on it the first time, though. Then she did a second blog post where she posted first pages. She was illustrating how important first pages were and how little Janice's first pages changed from what she sent as part of her query and what they submitted to publishers in an attempt to make the sale. They were very similar, almost identical. (Hence, first pages are important. But then, so are the rest of them. :) Reading the first pages, I felt like it was a book worth buying. Two days later, I had finished the entire thing. I read it again about six months later. It's a short but solid work. I am glad that the second novel came out when promised and not fallen into the sophomore slump of coming out years after the initial success.
What really shocked me about this series is that Kristin called it Middle Grade. Wow, really? It has a young protagonist, absent sexuality (other than young infatuation) or profanity, and most violence is threat more than execution. And it has a short word count. But still, Middle Grade? I would have assumed YA (sure, the line between the two isn't as distinct as between genres, but I don't usually read YA and I never read MG--I thought--so this came as a shocker to me).
I have one young-reader's story. Without it being finished, I don't know it's classification. MG is kind of new, really. Everything else I write is most certainly adult. I have graphic violence, profanity, sexuality, and all used (I think) in a manner appropriate to the work. Could I take it out? Could Otwald, aged 18, be the star of a YA TRIAD SOCIETY rather than the adult fantasy as I've written it? Until today, I never even considered it. I don't write YA. I have no interest in writing YA (with the exception of HOUSE ON SANDWICH NOTCH LANE). But "The Healing Wars" is a solid story that never seemed "young" to me. It's well written and an immersive setting. I have no qualms reading it. But writing it..?
I don't know, man. I just don't know. That's really the point of this post. Most of the time I just think of YA as the genre every agent and her sister reps when there are less than 30 agents remaining that accept submissions for adult (non-urban) fantasy. Now, let me be clear, I'm not pondering this to possibly expand my available agent pool. I'm just pondering on the state of adult fantasy all together. Between YA and Urban Fantasy, the genre is much diminished.
One last thing to note about BLUE FIRE. I bought it for $9.99. I bought so many more books last year before the agency model was implemented with ebooks. I was buying them left and right. Now that they're being priced $5 higher, I won't buy them. This makes me sad. A lot. There have been a number of books I wanted to buy that were priced too high.