Some responses to a reddit thread on Swords Versus Tanks

This is a response to this thread.  It turned out to be rather long, so I thought I would crosspost it here! If you are commenting in the next day or so, please do so on at Reddit if possible.


 

OK. This sub won’t let me post more than twice in ten minutes or so, so I’ll try to respond to all the comments in one post.

It’s hard to explain where you’re coming from as an author without sounding pretentious or big-headed, so please take the humility as read in what follows – really, I’m know I’m a minor franchise author jostling against the shoulders of giants like MJS.

What kind of book is it

Heavy Metal Pulp. That’s what I was listening to and envisaging as I wrote it. Vikings. Knights. Tanks. Zeppelins. Mayhem. Just like most Heavy Metal, it’s not written ironically and is not afraid of going over the top and still playing it straight. If it were a band then it would be Gloryhammer or Finntroll.

My particular literary ambition is to take the reader to places that go up to 11, and on a good day, seduce them into believing it for a while. Hence, for example, my Mongoliad/Foreworld SideQuest had William Marshal (real), Greatest Knight in History (arguably) fighting an Assassin on the deck of a Viking crusader ship. Similarly, my books for the War of the Roses game put my hero in that desperate charge at the first battle of St Albans (it’s nicely depicted on the cover by a very fine artist who mostly works for Osprey and similar). And, Shieldwall: Barbarans! took the hero up against Attila at the siege of Orleans – one reviewer described it as something like “Bernard Cornwall with the boring bits left out”.

In short, if an outline doesn’t say “RAHHH!” to me, I don’t write it.

Literary influences on this book- Simon R Green, David Gemmell, Lin Carter, Michael Moorcock and – above all else my trinity of Edgar Rice Burroughs, Leigh Brackett and Robert E Howard. Screen influences, the old Vikings movie, Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven.

If you must, then think of it as “Robert E Howard does Edgar Rice Burroughs with romantic threads by Leigh Brackett to a score by Hans Zimmer as played by Deep Purple.”

What the hell am I thinking?

I’ve been writing professionally for a couple of years. Though I’ve polished it using the craft gleaned from experience, I wrote the first draft several years back. It was my first novel, so I just wrote what I thought was cool and might get people’s attention. It got me an agent, but it turned out to be a bit too cross-genre to sell. Hence me going indy with it while waiting for my next franchise gig.

Yes but the title, the cover, the genre confusion…

Really, I don’t care.

This is an indy project. There’s no point in doing it if I’m not being myself (myself being somebody who can write plot and prose to a professional standard, I hasten to add). After all, I could equally well be writing marcoms and techdocs.

If people buy the book in error, then they can return it – kindle lets them do it. If they have any doubts, they can use the borrow facility instead. It’s also not very expensive. Less than the cost of the coffee I drank while reading this thread.

I will note, however, that getting your book into the wrong hands is a disaster because that’s how you get returns and one-star reviews. If the title puts you off, that’s a win for me, because you’ll most certainly HATE HATE HATE the contents! The same goes for the cover. You don’t have to like my book, that’s fine. We all have our own tastes.

The proof is in the pudding

As of writing this, Amazon tells me:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank:

9,153 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

11 in Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Steampunk

12 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Steampunk

185 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery

Sorry this turned out to be rather long! I think I’ll recycle it as a blog entry. Thanks folks!

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Posted in Business of Writing, Swords Versus Tanks, Writing

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