When you consider the tonnage of the tomes under which our planet groans, there doesn’t seem to be any new ground left to cover in the BISAC Subject Heading Codes for marketing books. But pigeonholing Irish Firebrands stumped me, because of its unexpected combination of Boomer-lit, contemporary romantic beach-read, supernatural-paranormal, social-political-historical exposé, psychopathology, and religious elements.
Unexpected? How can that be? you may ask. After all, you wrote it – almost 500 pages of it.
Well, it’s like this: The book wrote itself. All I did was write it down. Very little conscious decision-making went into it: mainly that of plugging scenes into their proper places in the story’s calendar. I had no idea that I was going to write about strange bedfellows like religion and politics.
Ah, but it had to be somebody’s fault. Whose fault was it?
His career had been based on finding answers to questions like that – but looking into Lana’s eyes, he wondered if it really mattered, now…. “Sorry. I think I got out of line, there.”
“That’s okay. Everybody’s entitled to his own opinions.”
“I guess that’s why they say, never discuss religion or politics.”
“Kind of tough to do. I’m a religious person.”
“And I’m a political journalist.”
Her gaze was so grave, he was stricken with apprehension– Don’t let this be goodbye! Then the corners of her eyes crinkled in that way that made him catch his breath in unexpected excitement.
“Sounds like the beginning of an interesting friendship,” she said.
(Irish Firebrands, Chapter 6)
Most of the writing experience was of the lightbulb-over-the-head variety: a political, historical or social controversy would abruptly leap off the page of a book, or out of the Irish newspaper in the browser on the screen, suggesting a fictional situation that previously I’d had no clue existed. This led to some “cringe and whinge” days, when I groused to the Muse, “You want me to write about that? You’ve got to be kidding.” But the answer was always, “Nope. That’s what happened.” All I could do then was quibble over semantics.
Popular fiction has often examined the spiritual struggles of those who profess the world’s creeds. Anglicans, Amish, monks, Muslims, priests, Puritans, nuns, Nonconformists, Buddhists, Biblical reinventions: all have been found on my bookshelves. It should have been no surprise that Irish Firebrands would hale Mormons out of their traditional cozy-inspirational niche in the Intermountain West, to weather the storms of a mainstream, multi-genre, multi-cultural melodrama about people with maladaptive coping strategies. (One early reader remarked that the book reminded her of works by Graham Greene – whom I’ve never read – who apparently wrote in a similar way about troubled Catholics.)
To have a marketing category choice like Fusion Fiction would have saved me the Sturm und Drang of picking through dozens of marketing categories, none of which accurately described what I’d written. As a genre, Fusion Fiction is how writing shows the hybrid vigor it inherited from the strange-bedfellow meeting of Art and Life.
Now I’m wading through the mud and the blood of early twentieth-century history to write a novel in a genre that’s different to that of my first book. I’m still just the scribe, but I do feel better prepared meet the the strange bedfellows that may lurk between the covers.
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