Yesterday, I went to a sci-fi gathering at an eclectic bookstore in Clovis, California. Normally, I avoid this genre because I've never read sci-fi or fantasy. However, I've dragged my friend Che to a number of bookish events she was reluctant to attend, so I owed her.
I don't know who Dr. Who is, but apparently the kid in the suit and bow tie was representing. I felt awkward sitting next to the barefoot woman with the gypsy scarf and leg bracelet, despite the fact that I do astrology (I'd thoughtfully left my crystal ball at home). I still don't know where a mandolin fit into the picture—did I miss something?
There were interesting readings: penguin armies on the rampage, vampire bartenders, severed hand in a Humvee, proof of ancient aliens. These subjects never come up at the mystery events I attend. No, my friends and I are more concerned with the best way to kill people and where to hide a body. Information you can really use.
The trivia contest for free books involved knowing novels like Dune and Lord of the Rings cover to cover. Answers were contested and people googled on their phones to double-check. It all sounded like gibberish to me. The fact that people actually knew the answers set the nerd bar very high.
But, you know, I found much of the same energy and camaraderie among these fantasy aficionados as I see with my murder-loving friends. I could even feel myself being pulled into their strange world of stranger worlds. Maybe I've been too genre-phobic all these years. The level of imagination coming from this group stunned me. Mystery writing requires a certain amount of control and at least one foot in reality. None of that seemed to apply with these authors.
As an acquisitions editor, I've had to open my mind to a wide range of reading material. I introduced a Western line even though Lonesome Dove was the only real Western I'd ever read. I was able to stretch a bit on paranormal plots but drew the line at the werewolf/vampire/zombie trend. However, Oak Tree Press is trying a contest this year for our Mystic Oaks line so yes, bring on all of the above. I can handle it.
Bottom line: maybe I'm ready to explore genres outside my comfort zone. But, I think I have to draw the line at romance writing events. I hear those authors are STRANGE!