A reader recently asked my opinion about why Junkyard Druid has been so much more successful than my previous novels. I decided to share my response here on my blog, because my it addresses a few issues regarding genre and content that seem to come up a lot among critics of the Junkyard Druid books.
Honestly, I could give a shit about my critics. However, I think it’s a shame when a small vocal minority attempts to define an entire genre based on their own personal preferences. Anyway, here’s the response I posted to the reader’s question:
There are a couple of reasons (why Junkyard Druid has been more successful). First, THEM was a genre mash-up. That’s usually a mistake, because it’s harder to find an audience with cross-genre books. Of course, Michael Anderle is killing it with his Kutherian Gambit universe, so there are always outliers and black swans who defy that rule of thumb, but generally that’s the case. I decided to focus in on a single genre with Junkyard Druid, and I think the focus helped it find an audience more quickly.
Second, I love urban fantasy, and I think that love for the genre comes through in the storytelling.
Third, hard core urban fantasy readers go through a lot of books, and right now there’s not much on the market that’s not PNR or erotica posing as UF, especially in the new adult market.
Fourth, it’s fairly clean. Some would argue that new adult has to be trashy to qualify as such (a few people have even claimed this in negative reviews of the novels), but that’s just like saying a novel can’t be urban fantasy unless it has a lot of graphic sex, which is completely ridiculous.
There are plenty of readers who want to read about characters who are college aged, who don’t want to have to deal with every third word being “f*ck”, and who don’t want to have a graphic sex scene on every other page. The way the last two books have gone, I take out about 80% of the f-bombs in editing, and my editor helps me tune the sex scenes so they are suggestive without being graphic.
You have to remember as well that new adult is an emerging category of fiction, and it’s still being defined. I suspect there are authors who would like to define it as being necessarily raunchy and foul-mouthed, in order to keep other writers out of the pool. However, over time readers define genres by their buying habits. I expect that we’ll eventually see sub-genres emerge (in new adult), the same way that PNR became it’s own genre, by merging romance with urban fantasy and high fantasy.
Based on overall reader feedback I’m going to keep writing these books without the explicit sex and excessively foul language, and see where it takes me. Personally, I love writing about college age characters. They’re fun as hell to write, because they’re in a transitional period in their lives. So, it allows for a lot of freedom and also sets up a plenty of opportunity for conflict and tension as well.
A footnote to this discussion; the prequel is definitely YA, and that was by design. Read the introductions I wrote for both the prequel and Junkyard Druid, and you’ll understand why that is.
Anyway, thanks to all the readers who have supported the Colin McCool urban fantasy series thus far. I’m about 30% through the third book at the moment, and cranking out scenes on a daily basis. And as I’ve said before, no matter how people want to classify the series, I’ll keep writing it as long as readers keep reading it.