People have been asking me recently about the differences between my current book The Pick-Up Artist and my previous one Song of the Sea God. Specifically, they want to know if it is easy to switch between literary fiction which I did in Sea God, and a more light-hearted, more or less rom-com style which I adopt in Pick-Up Artist.
Well, readers will be the judge of whether I managed to make that transition, though the early Amazon reviews have been positive thankfully, but I would say, I didn’t find switching styles, or genres, to be too much of a stretch.
The great Toni Morrison said:
“If there is a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.“
And that’s where I come from I think, is there a book I would like to read? Could I write it? That’s the place my writing starts rather than thinking about genres, which I have always considered to be artificial constructs designed by the publishing industry rather than anything authors should bother themselves with.
And that explains why I shall probably never trouble the best seller charts. Because I suspect that wiser and more successful authors than me do think a lot about genre and fitting their writing into the appropriate boxes. That’s how they find agents and big publishers – by giving them what they want.
So I write my curious stories, and my misfit books, without giving any real thought to what they might be called or what shelf in the book shop they might sit on.
That’s not to say my style doesn’t change. There is a marked difference in style between Sea God and PUA I think. It will be interesting to see whether readers agree with me on this.
Put simply I would say that The Pick-Up Artist is more conversational, the language is simpler and more direct. There was plenty of colloquial language in Sea God of course, but there were linguistic flights of fancy too. In PUA I made an effort to pitch the tone of the writing at a particular level and keep it there. I was aided in this by the friends who read early drafts for me and would take out long words with a tut, telling me they weren’t the sort of language which had a natural home in a book of this sort. They felt out of place, not part of the world of the book
That was a huge help to me and helped crystallise the style I was aiming for. Because the key thing with style for me is that the whole book works as a unit. That the characters speak how they should, that the world feels right and that I have all the right notes in the right order.