For the last year… ever since I started When Darkness Falls back in NaNo of 2016, I’ve been stressing and agonizing over what genre it is. It’s middle ages time period, set in a fictitious country in the middle/near east (think Arabian Nights and Moghul Empire kind of combined) and has djinn (genie), vampires, shapeshifters, and special appearances by a dragon. So uhh… what is it? It’s not “epic” which follows the hero’s journey (or whatever). But it is a kind of sweeping tale. Paranormal romance tends to be contemporary; paranormal romance with vampires that’s not contemporary tends to be gothic; fantasy tends to be epic. *headbangs*. I finally found a FABULOUS blog by Jeffe Kennedy explaining the difference between paranormal romance and fantasy romance… and all my doubts came to an end! I was writing fantasy romance! Whew! Problem solved. (I actually wrote a blog post about that here)
That lasted until the feedback started rolling in from my beta readers (some, anyway). The problem arises in that readers of the romance genre have an expectation (well-founded) of seeing the hero and heroine meet within a reasonably short time after the story begins. I get that. Totally. Except… mine don’t. We dance around it for a number of chapters. Oh, they see each other… but there’s reasons not to have them actually meet face to face, and when they do, all hell breaks loose. So… while it IS a romance, at the same time, that expectation that the two protagonists are going to meet right away, isn’t being met. So by setting it as romance genre, we’re going to have some unhappy readers who, if they werent’ expecting “a romance novel,” might otherwise actually be perfectly happy with the unfolding of the story.
Just a quick side note… this story got delayed in writing for two YEARS because I couldn’t figure out how to resolve the differences to make a happy ending. The heroine is the Royal Scribe, and devoted and loyal to the Sultana. The hero is the big bad ancient vampire/demon overlord whom everyone fears. I mean, helloooo. Can we say conflict of interests? The obvious two choices would be for him to turn her into a vampire (SO not happening!), or for him to be somehow “redeemed” into a good guy (oh YUCK! UGH! please!). Both are so cliche and done to death, and I simply hate to be cliche. Then one night, after two *years* of struggling to figure it out… I woke up in the night and just knew! I scrambled out of bed and was off and writing! And here we are!
The other problem I have come up against… and it’s a *major* problem… is that in playing out the story line, we have so far 48 chapters, with over 168k words (that’s about 672 pages.. not quite as long as Outlander or GoT which are both over 800 pages). For context, your basic single title novel is around 400 pages. To cut it back by a third would wipe out a good deal of the plot line… I very rarely write “filler” material; almost everything I write into the story no matter how seemingly insignificant has some purpose in forwarding the story, if not immediately apparent it will come into play later (yes, even the peacock). EVERYTHING in the first part leads to one goal… Damien and Alyssa meeting face to face for the first time.
So I thought… hmm. Why don’t I split it into two parts. In fact, once they do meet it’s a major turning point in the story, not just for the two most closely involved, but for the palace and the city, and even the other vampires. Okay. So… Part I: The Palace, and Part II: The Vampire. I was really thrilled with the idea, and sat down looking at my outline.. and saw a furthering of that idea. Part II is roughly twice as long as Part I but… about halfway through that we have another major plot hinge that again affects absolutely everyone. So… what if I did a Part III: The Prophecy. So… a trilogy, with each book about 80k or about long category length. This also gives me a wee bit more room to do some character work with the secondary characters (which will make my beta readers happy, too! LOL). Also, the Part titles kind of reflect the overall theme of that part of the story, and I like that. I really do.
Now… in making this decision, I knew I was making the choice to give up all hope of finding a traditional publisher for this story. Outlander and GoT aside, they’re just not going to go for it (I don’t even begin to claim to be in that category of awesomeness). So I thought about that. I sat and let the idea simmer for a couple weeks, mulling over the pros and cons. Ultimately, I decided that this story was special enough *to me* that telling the story my way was more important. Not that I write “to the market” for the other novels, but they were written with industry standards in mind, and in the hopes of catching the interest of a major publisher. This one was written because… well… because it had to be written. And I can’t tell the story *and* keep it within industry standards. So I’m going to stop fussing over marketability to publishers, and write it, and I am LOVING IT!!! It’s an amazing story, an Arabian Nights style paranormal fantasy, and that’s how I’ll market it, when the time comes… whether I self publish or find a good small press interested in taking it on.
In the meantime, I have it out to a half dozen beta readers, and am polishing and crafting the manuscript, because I want it to be better than good! I really believe in this story, and it’s going to be as wonderful as I can possibly make it.
P.S…. the picture set as the featured image is one I found on Pinterest, that completely captures how I envision the Sultana who rules Al Khair.