Thursday, July 26, 2012

Double-Barrel, a guest blog by Marshall Payne

First, I’d like to thank Tali for having me here today. She has more than one Happy Book Day coming up soon, so I know how busy she is.

Over the past month I published two novels, each the first book in a series. Petrol Queen is a secondary-world industrial fantasy, while Jimmy-Don and the Texas Hill Country Ordeal is an urban fantasy set—where else?—in Texas. Both novels are available for Kindle and in trade paperback on My author page is here.

Recently, someone asked me if I thought it was wise publishing both novels so close together. Might the combined efforts of promotion hurt each book, one canceling the other out? After a bit of thought, I decided that it wouldn’t.

There are big differences between being an indie author and a writer going the more traditional route. With the traditional route, when your book comes out and hits the brick-and-mortal stores, you typically have just a few weeks to make a splash or your book is removed from the racks for new releases coming along. With indie publishing—ebooks especially—there really is no shelf life. In fact, many up-and-coming indie authors benefit from the “slow boil” marketing strategy and the additional time to find an audience. Therefore, it made sense to me to go ahead and get both first novels out there, and then over the next year or two release further books in each series. Hopefully, as new readers find each series, sales will grow through word of mouth. The fact that these two books came out two weeks apart has little bearing on their future.

As to the actually writing, both novels, Petrol Queen and Jimmy-Don and the Texas Hill Country Ordeal, are completely different. Petrol Queen is a more dire book, where the kingdom of Amel-Gar undergoes a revolution as the have-nots attempt to overthrow the powers that be of a decadent society. Still, there is a lot of humor amid the industrial pollution and corruption. Jimmy-Don is more of a humorous urban fantasy about how magic keeps getting in the way of an aspiring musician’s career. Jimmy-Don is the most unlikely hero I think one can find. This book works more because of the characters, where Petrol Queen relies a bit more on the ideas and worldbuilding.

While bringing the characters to life is always my primary goal, there was one thing I tried to do in both books—something that many fantasy novels are sadly lacking. It has to do with how the speculative elements are employed.

Often in an SF/F novel, all the main tropes are laid out in the beginning, and as the conflict develops those tropes are used to achieve an end. But with Petrol Queen and Jimmy-Don, I didn’t want to shoot my wad of invention all at the beginning. My goal when writing these was to have the speculative invention grow throughout both books. To sustain the sensawunder, if nothing else. So just when you think you’ve seen it all, another mind-blowing trope pops up to outdo the one before. As both series progress, I hope to continue this trend, so there’s always something to amaze the reader just beyond the next page.

I hope you’ll check out Petrol Queen and Jimmy-Don and the Texas Hill Country Ordeal. I had a lot of fun writing them and I hope readers enjoy them, as well.

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  1. Yay! You have Marshall back!

    Both books sound neat. Plus, the hubby works in the petro industry. Could be interesting, huh? ;)