Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Monday 7 May 2012

Perhaps it’s because I’m new...

Despite what some would consider my advanced age, I only recently began to write long prose fiction. There are lots of reasons for that, but it’s not the point of today’s blog, except to say that I urge you not to put off doing anything that you really want to do.
The point of today’s blog is to talk about writing styles and choices of story types.
My first novel is SF, although it’s more Margaret Atwood than Isaac Asimov. My second novel is what some people would call Literary Fiction. My third novel is a jolly Fantasy romp. You might also call it YA, because it’s full of young people, and is a bit ‘rites of passage’. The next book, which I can’t wait to start is a psychological thriller, although it does have things in common with the second novel.

I’m sure you get my drift.

It might be because I’m older than the average first time novelist and have been saving up stories for longer, but it strikes me that I want to write lots of different stories in different genres. 

I wonder if I should concentrate my mind. I wonder if I should decide what works for me and keep going with that. It might just be that the decision is made for me, of course, now that I have my lovely agent, and that’ll be fine too.
How does a writer luck into what they’re ‘supposed’ to be doing? 

I know how Ian Rankin came to write his first Rebus novel (after playing a very minor role in a very real murder enquiry), but I don’t know why he continued to write police procedurals so intensively for so long, except, I guess he was hooked by his character, and there was a demand for more books.
The other example is, of course, the husband. How did he find his niche?
Here’s the thing: he’s got more than one niche. The husband has been a New York Times bestseller in four different categories. You’re going to remind me, though, that it’s pretty well all SF, apart from the Fantasy and the comic books. Cosmic stuff for Marvel or DC is nothing like the dark, funny, very European Sinister Dexter for 2000AD, though. You could cite his work for the Black Library, but Gaunt’s Ghosts are infantry, the Inquisitor trilogies are espionage thrillers and then there’s the 30K stuff, and, of course the fantasy novels written for Warhammer. Let’s not forget that when the husband was give a free-rein he wrote “Triumff, a hilarious alternative history romp.
In the end, as writers, we do what we do, but mostly we do what sells.
Right now, I don’t know what that’s going to be. I don’t know who's going to buy which of my novels, or what sort of numbers they’re going to buy them in. That’s fine with me, just so long as I’m allowed to keep writing.
Who knows, when push comes to shove, I might end up writing one type of book for the publisher and another to go in a drawer, just because they’re stories that I want to tell.

There are now only 5 days before my hundredth blog, so I'm going to use them to suggest some blogs that you might want to visit. The first is Kaaron Warren's blog. She's a great writer and blogger, and a splendid woman. I particularly like her 'Sparks' interviews in which writers talk about how their ideas came to fruition.


  1. I find this an interesting post because I'd always assumed that agents and publishers would corral a writer into a particular genre and be very reluctant to allow them to go outside that. I got the impression that their investment into building an author's platform was based on a specific market and that they wouldn't want to pour resources into one book, then have the writer switch to something else completely. The exception might be with a very prolific or very successful Big Name writer where their following would read anything that had their name on the cover.

    I find myself drawn to any number of story ideas, but am then hamstrung by the thought that they don't fit a market, or (even more importantly) that I wouldn't want to spend the rest of my writing life only in that part of the market. Creates a quandary and a bit of a blockage - as all the books tell you to write what you want AND to 'know your market'.

    I will be really interested to see how you go with all your plans, Nicola. It's good to have an advanced guard so willing to share the information and experience.

    1. I think it's increasingly likely that anyone who takes me on will want me to stick to one style of writing or, at the very least, one genre. These times seem to require it. This is just one more good reason why I wish I'd begun taking my writing seriously a long time ago.

      Having said that, I'll be more than happy to take what I can get. Being paid to write is such a huge privilege.