Changing the Label

Covers1-4CompositeI’ve been re-reading Seventh Son and Cat and Mouse, the print copies, no less. It’s been long enough that I can look at them with fresh eyes and a little bit of distance. (In the case of Checkmate, I’ve gone over it so many times in the last months that I have it practically memorised, and you know what they say about familiarity and contempt. I still find it hard to wrap my head around the fact that these characters, whom I’ve lived with for more than a year now, are still total strangers to you – you haven’t even met Rhitha yet, when she’s been a reality to me for so long… Well, just another four days, and you’ll get to know her!)

So, in re-reading the books, I’m seeing them a little bit differently. I’m spotting the odd tiny inconsistencies here and there that had escaped me before (and I’m not telling you what they are; you’ll have to find them for yourself. If you don’t, so much the better). And one of the things I’m rethinking about this series is its designation.

I’ve previously loudly protested that Seventh Son is not a YA novel. Cat (the main character) is 28 years old; she’s an adult, not a “young adult” (aka “teenager”, which is what YA translates to in book business parlance). However, when I first published the book, readers kept thinking it was a YA. One friend said it sounded like the books his daughters brought home from the high school library; several real-life teens read it and said they liked it; and I repeatedly got the label “sweet” for it. I was starting to react a bit (okay, a lot) to that epithet – “sweet” can have an undertone of “nauseating” (although, to be fair, none of the people who used that label for my books meant it in that way at all – that’s purely my own reaction to it). But I’m starting to come around to accepting that word, and, furthermore, changing my mind about the label that would fit the Septimus Series best.

It’s not only that Seventh Son is a “sweet romance” without “adult content”. The further along I get in the series, the more young characters keep popping up. Seventh Son is about adults in their late 20’s (and a small child). But Cat and Mouse prominently features a couple of young teen boys. Checkmate‘s main protagonist is an 11-year-old girl. And Star Bright, which is in the works, is centred around an 18-year-old guy fresh out of high school. Kids proliferate, and the more the series grows, the more we get inside their heads. Cat is still always one of the point-of-view characters, but we get to hear more and more from young people. I can’t help it, they’re asking to be written!

I figure I might as well admit to it: the Septimus Series is a YA series. I wrote (am writing) these books to suit myself – they’re books I would enjoy reading (actually, at the risk of sounding conceited, I am enjoying reading them. It’s a very satisfying thing when you like your own work. Much as I like my own cooking, which my waistline can attest to). I’m not a “young adult” by any stretch of the imagination; all the grey on my head would prove the contrary, were I inclined to argue the point. But I love books about kids (small or big), or traditionally classified as being for kids – many of my favourites come from the YA and JF (Junior Fiction) shelves of the library. In fact, I practically never browse the “General Fiction” shelves; it’s either YA, JF, MYS (Mystery) or SF&F (Science Fiction & Fantasy). So I suppose it’s no accident my own writing falls into these categories.

So, I’m changing the label. If you’re going to suggest the Septimus Series for purchase at your local library (please do!), mark it as a YA, so it comes to the attention of the right librarian and lands on the right shelf. And then forget about the sticker on it, and just read the books for enjoyment. What’s in a name? A series, by any other name, reads just as well…

Life, the Universe, and a new label. Just four more days to Checkmate!

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5 Comments

Filed under Cat and Mouse, Checkmate, Seventh Son, The Septimus Series, writing

5 responses to “Changing the Label

  1. I love that we both made some name changes to our series in the same week! I agree that YA is good fit for the Septimus books … even if they don’t fit squarely into the more traditional YA mold, they have a place of their own within that genre.

    Only four more days until Checkmate? Squee!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • amo

      If it was Seventh Son alone, I still wouldn’t change it, but it’s the later books that are getting “younger”. And there is also one of my favourite urban fantasy series, Enchanted Inc. by Shanna Swendson, which she says isn’t YA (same as mine, an adult protag.) but I found it in the library in the YA’s and didn’t think anything of that, it seemed to fit. So…

      Like

  2. It’s interesting, isn’t it, how characters come along and determine the path of a story, despite our original intentions. And it’s one of the joys of self publishing, that we have the power to make change when we feel like it. I love that you enjoy reading your own work – I know what you mean. Even when I get to the 1023rd edit and I’m sick of the sight of it, I still enjoy the characters and the story they tell. Hopefully that’s a good sign! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • amo

      Exactly! Seventh Son started out from one premise (writing about a character not unlike myself in a weird situation), and is turning into a bit of a family saga. It’s like this world and these characters just grew, and keep growing… I just had another plot idea for a whole novel pop into my head, and I’m almost batting at it to get away from me – I have two other books to write first! I love how we can just suit ourselves with what we do.

      Liked by 1 person

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