The past few days I’ve been thinking about my friend and fellow author Carrie Dalby (and not just because today is her birthday – HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!)
By some weird telepathy, she messaged me with the latest news on the epic saga of a manuscript she’s been shopping. I lost track of how many books are in the series, but she hammered them out in rapid succession – hundreds of thousands of words that would put any Nanowrimo winner to shame.
This series is her baby. You know, that one book or “world” that comes from someplace inside that you didn’t know existed and becomes all-consuming. Trouble is, her saga doesn’t fit one specific genre or category. There’s no way it’s going to “sell” to a standard publisher who needs to be able to pitch it to a ready-made audience.
Without giving away any details I’m not supposed to disclose, it’s historical, Southern, definitely gothic (more than she intended in some aspects, lol) … but also very Christian. Okay, to me it’s very Christian, but to others it may be very lightly Christian because it’s also “sensual” as one publisher put it (and they didn’t mean that in a good way).
Compared to my books, her series is downright Puritanical, but to strictly Christian publishers, it’s scandalous – not just because there’s sex (!!!) but also because there are … darker elements at work. As one beta reader put it, she wrote a series about demon sex. (That reader may have been her mother. Heh.) That’s where she’s running into issues.
I could go on about the querying and publishing aspects of her journey, but the main point I want to share here is that Carrie isn’t afraid to take chances.
Her first published novel was a Christian historical called FORTITUDE that took on the topic of war and interracial relationships. Her second novel, CORRODED, featured a heroine who learns to embrace going against the grain plus a hero who has Asperger’s. Talk about taking risks. And yet, those almost pale in comparison to the giant leap of faith she took in writing her current manuscript.
I know it’s frustrating to have created something that means so much to you and have it rejected by the powers that be just because it shreds the proverbial box. Carrie’s persistence (dare I say fortitude?) is one of the things I admire most about her, both as a person and a writer. From a distance she may appear to be one kind of person, but get to know her and you’ll soon learn the onion metaphor is truth. I suspect most of us can claim the same thing to varying defgrees, but it’s something else entirely to create something and then put it in front of people for the express purpose of having them judge it.
I hope she sticks to her guns and doesn’t try to revise and resubmit it until it no longer resembles her vision. The world needs more misfits to shake things up, even in publishing.