Explicit Sex, F-Bombs, and Urban Fantasy

Junkyard Druid new adult urban fantasyA 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.

~MDM

18 Comments

  1. Kathleen Gresham on April 25, 2017 at 10:54 pm

    Love the series. Love that it’s set in Austin, too. Can’t wait for the next book! Thanks for writing it.

  2. Gus morales on October 12, 2017 at 1:20 am

    I would like to know when book 5 Druid Justice will be publish? Thank you.

    • M.D. Massey on October 23, 2017 at 4:13 pm

      January, but possibly earlier if I can get the final Scratch Sullivan book out quickly.

      • Carol Hallenbeck on July 27, 2023 at 12:23 am

        I love Scratch Sullivan and the series THEM. So happy that you’re writing more. This is a series worthy of a much bigger audience. In fact, I think I like it even better than Junkyard Druid, and I’ve bought all of those books too.

        • M.D. Massey on August 7, 2023 at 4:35 pm

          Thanks for the kind words on the Scratch Sullivan books!

  3. Cindy Deporter on October 21, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    I love the Colin Mccool books. The are interesting and fun to read. I am a older reader and like the urban fantasy books because there are lots of interesting twists. Like I can’t believe all the twists! Waiting patiently for the next!

  4. Greg Courter on June 23, 2023 at 11:36 am

    FWIW I preferred the Them serious to the McCool stuff though I enjoy them both. And I think I like the Shadow Changeling a bit better as well. I do appreciate that you tend to write in first person. I think I like SC because you did a great job of making the narrative feel like a completely different character than Colin. Well done. I would really love to see more Them.

    • M.D. Massey on July 7, 2023 at 4:30 pm

      I hear you, Greg. Sometimes I’m torn as to which series I enjoyed writing more. Scratch will always be near and dear to my heart, but Colin’s series sells well so I remain focused on his books. Doesn’t mean I’m not planning more books with the Scratch Sullivan/THEM cast of characters, though. And I have more planned for Crowley as well. Stay tuned.

  5. Robin Cruce on June 23, 2023 at 11:48 am

    I just saw this in my newsletter, and must say that I agree with your reasoning. I bought the entire series on Audible before I bought the ebooks (I wanted to see how the names were spelled…and there’s something very satisfying about reading them for myself). I own all of the stories in the Druidverse, as well as all of the ones in THEMverse…and I love that it’s not part of the Druidverse (I don’t know how many actually caught that, since Colin McCumhaill was not killed by the bombings in that universe). Both sets of stories are wonderfully told, and your narrators for the series’ are excellent. I haven’t started the Cerberus series, yet, but they’re coming up next. Thank you for creating these characters; they remind me of a lot of the science fiction I read as a kid in the 1960’s.

    • M.D. Massey on July 7, 2023 at 4:28 pm

      ***SPOILER ALERT***
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      Thanks, Robin! Actually, the Hellpocalypse timeline Colin was killed by the bombs. All the crossover stuff in Colin’s novels involves primary timeline (Druidverse) Colin. The “THEMverse” is the Druidverse, just in an alternate timeline stem. I hope this clears that up. 🙂

  6. Kent on June 23, 2023 at 1:15 pm

    Awesome series!!

  7. Donna Grebas on June 23, 2023 at 5:42 pm

    I’m an older woman (me, older??? How can that be??). I’m also a real Druid ? I LOVE the Colin McCool books and plan to keep buying them! I hope you’re doing well and I plan to donate to your GoFundMe page sgain. Stay well!!

    • M.D. Massey on July 7, 2023 at 4:25 pm

      Thanks for the kind words, Donna! I’ve tried to make the druids in Colin’s world as close to IRL historical Celtic druids as possible, while taking liberties for storytelling’s sake. Glad to know you’re enjoying the result!

  8. C M on June 23, 2023 at 6:25 pm

    I tend to read YA books because so many adult books are all about shove it in your face sex and cussing just to cuss. I’m not a prude and I’ve been around military and night shift hospital people most of my life (IYKYK) but I LOVE that these are fairly clean. I don’t really follow many authors but have enjoyed the Junkyard Druid series so much I had to follow you.

    • M.D. Massey on July 7, 2023 at 4:24 pm

      Thanks CM. Except for Colin’s potty mouth, I try to keep all my books fairly clean. My THEM series is probably the squeakiest, followed by Crowley’s series, then Colin’s stuff. Glad you appreciate that I don’t follow “spicy” trends.

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