*slips iron branding poker into fire. To stick in my eye because I just used the word “brand” as a jargon-y verb*Anyway. If you hold a gun to my head and force me to identify my brand, it’s this: commercial women’s fiction that cracks a towel on your behind. That is to say, funny with bite. But what people find funny is very subjective. Two years ago I was approached to ghostwrite a novel for a celebrity—it was to be sweet, cozy, warm, “funny,” maybe with an element of light mystery or magic, and recipes.
After I stopped panicking and throwing up, I sat back and considered this. I can do cozy and warm in real life. In college, a bunch of guys actually nicknamed me “America’s Sweetheart.” I garden, I bake cookies, I rescue bumblebees from spider webs, I never forget a birthday, and I would adopt every unwanted animal within a hundred mile radius if my husband would let me. BUT: if I actually tried to write something warm and fuzzy, every molecule in my being would mutiny. I’d snap. I’d start out writing about a sweet, hapless woman who dreamed of opening a cupcake bakery and finding Mr. Right, but instead she’d chuck it all to join a gluten-free, transgender biker gang, and there would be way more jokes about skin tags and athletic supporters than should exist in print, period. I just find sarcastic anti-heroes and their journeys to redemption that much more FUN to write.In other words, I like Jim Gaffigan a lot, but I like Louis C.K. a lot more.
(Speaking of comedy, oh, do I have a great book to tell you about in a few weeks!)So I guess I’ve got my “brand,” and my next two novels--one complete, one underway--enforce this. However, there is a book I am DYING to write that goes way off my reservation. This is in keeping with a running theme in my life: things going smoothly? Complicate the hell out of them! Anyway, more on that later.
Next week: my favorite Brussels sprouts recipe, and let’s help my friend December Gephart celebrate the release of her debut novel!