When you become a writer and start to tell people you’re a writer, you get used to the question, “So what’s your book about?” That’s not to say you have a perfect one-line, back-of-book-worthy pitch on the tip of your tongue each time. (You should, but it’s harder than you think.) No matter how tired and tongue-tied I am though, I’m always at least able to give people the basics: title, genre, main character and conflict. For example, Unforeseen is an urban fantasy about a twenty-five year old whose world gets turned upside down when she’s attacked one night by creatures she never knew existed, creatures who know more about who and what she is than she does.
I always felt that was mysterious enough to peak interest, yet clear enough to give people an idea of the type of book it was. What I soon discovered, though, is that anyone who doesn’t read urban fantasy has no idea what I’m talking about when I say this. The best example of that came by means of my brother. Being the superb marketing guy that he is, he was talking up my book at work one day with his colleagues. Not having read the book yet or any others in the genre, he just used the jargon I’d thrown at him, referring to the tale as an urban fantasy. I got a call later that night.
“So, Lau, what exactly is urban fantasy? One of the guys at work asked if it was ‘ghetto fantasy’?”
At this point I’m picturing Daniel Radcliff and Emma Watson (of the Harry Potter movies) dressed up to look like they belong in a cheap rap video employing the worst of city stereotypes, and I’m ready to wet my pants laughing.
In fairness, though, my brother and his coworker asked a fair question, because urban fantasy is actually a misnomer. Often there’s nothing “urban” about it. Urban fantasy is just the name for fantasy set in contemporary times and real-life places—often cities, but not always. The Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood series, for example, is set mostly in a small town in Louisiana but is still urban fantasy. The main character in an urban fantasy tends to be a human, albeit often with some power, who encounters fantastical creatures living in her world, sometimes hidden, sometimes not. She or he may or may not enjoy rap. (My heroine Alex is more of a Paramore or Avril Lavigne fan, actually.)
The problem is that UF fans still use the term, because to readers of the genre, it’s a perfectly clear label. So I guess until the urban fantasy world adopts the more general-public friendly term used by Amazon of contemporary fantasy, I’m stuck explaining to people in way more than a one-line pitch what it is I write. Or I could keep it simple and honest and answer, “I write vampire books.” That just might work, too.
Lauren Grimley lives in central Massachusetts where she grew up, but her heart is on the beaches of Cape Cod where she spends as much of her time as possible. After graduating from Boston University she became a middle school English teacher. She now balances writing, reading, and correcting, all with a cat on her lap and a glass of red wine close by.
Unforeseen, the first novel in the Alex Crocker Seer series, was Lauren’s debut novel, and she’s thrilled to be continuing the series with Unveiled. To learn more about her or her writing or to connect with her online visit her website at www.laurengrimley.com
Author website: http://www.laurengrimley.com
Twitter @legrimley: https://twitter.com/legrimley