Ask the Alien – 5/15/16 – Genre Mashing with Dakota Kemp

By: Alien Jones, Intergalactic Correspondent

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“Hmm yes. Hot steampunk chicks with big cannons. I dig it.”

Greetings Earth Losers.

The Esteemed Brainy One here.  The intergalactic trade war over irregular pants continues, but alas, I have done all I can. I have since moved on to Dromodo, where the beings are fighting over the right to marry.

I have heard you humans have been squabbling over that right yourselves (i.e. who should and shouldn’t be allowed to marry) but the Dromodons have a different kind of fight going on.

None of them want to get married ever again.  The government wants to hitch everyone up in forced marital bliss whereas the Dromodons just want to chill out and let their freak flags fly.

That’s what they call their genitals. “Freak flags.”  Very disgusting. Just take my word for it. You don’t want me posting any pictures of that nonsense.

Anyway, I just received this transmission from Earth writer, Dakota Kemp:

Should storytellers cross genre boundary lines? Or should authors like Bookshelf Q. Battler and I be considered clinically insane for their penchant of smooshing together wildly disparate genres?

For example, I’m mashing together the steampunk and sword-and-sorcery genres in my novel, Ironheart: The Primal Deception just as BQB does with westerns and zombie dystopia in How the West Was Zombed.

Are BQB and I unrecognized geniuses or delusional losers?

Hmmm.  Like Charlie Sheen on a Friday night, that question is loaded.

Perhaps I’ll start by taking a look at your latest novel, which I’m told just hit Amazon’s virtual shelves on May 12:

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Well, you’ve got all the trappings of a good novel here. A serious looking man with a derby. Old warrior who looks like he’s up to something. Hot chick with a big ass weapon.

I like it.  And really, the whole secret to good writing is that you, the author, like it.  And it appears to me that you do.

People try so hard to put books into boxes and slap labels on them.

The big question is “Are you having a good time while you write it?”

If you’re having fun, then it will show in your writing.

Everyone is different.  Some people are old ladies who love to write cozy mysteries in which their precocious kitty cats solve crimes.

Others are lonely housewives who unleash their pent up angst with steamy erotica.

Some people are like Bookshelf Q. Battler who beats himself up a lot over past mistakes and then inevitably writes stories about characters who goofed something up big time and are forever trying to make amends for it in some way.

The general advice I have heard from authors is that you try to “write for market” i.e. slap together a book that fits a cookie cutter cutout of every other book that is doing well, it probably will not do well if your heart and soul isn’t reflected in that book.

In other words, just write what you love to write about. If you love certain genres, and you enjoy mashing them up together, then by all means do so.

Think about it.

Do you want to eat a store bought cake that’s one in a hundred that was dumped off the back of a delivery truck yesterday?

Or do you want to eat a cake that was made with love by a little old lady baker who gets up at four a.m. every day?

The corporate clowns at your local chain grocery store don’t care about your taste buds or the art of cake making, but the little old lady who has studied baking her entire life certainly cares.

And perhaps that little old lady has a few tricks up her sleeve.  Maybe she adds a pinch of cinnamon or a dash of nutmeg to her cakes to really make your taste buds sing. Corporate clowns will never do that. They’ll just bust out their calculators, crunch the numbers, and decide they can still sell cakes without the added expense of nutmeg.

You sir, are clearly a nerd (no offense as nerds are held up with more reverence these days) who loves the steampunk and sword-and-sorcery genres.

You took your time, put in the work, built your own world and then birthed it into this one.

Are you insane and/or delusional?  No. If you enjoyed writing your book, it will show and once the word gets out, you’ll have way more readers than BQB’s paltry 3.5.

Dakota, there’s an old commercial for Reese’s peanut butter cups in which various humans complain in jest to one another, “You got chocolate in my peanut butter. No, you got peanut butter in my chocolate!”

Once upon a time companies just made chocolate. Then Mr. Reese shoved some peanut butter up a chocolate candy’s butt and people have enjoyed getting that much more obese ever since.

You’ll never know what people will like until you try.  Mr. Reese loved chocolate and peanut butter.  They’re better together, and I’m willing to bet that steampunk and sword-and-sorcery fantasy will mix just as well.

Sure, there will be plenty of squares who will tell you “don’t do this or that.”

They’ll tell you that genres are a lot like the lyrics to that fine 1994 song Come Out and Play by the Offspring.  “You got to keep ’em separated.”

Except, no you don’t.  Toss all the genres you want in a big bowl, mix them up, pop them in the oven, serve up your dish to the readers and let them decide.

By the way, don’t compare yourself to the lowly BQB. You two are in different leagues.

You sir, got a book to market, whereas BQB just screws around all day and maybe if I’m lucky he’ll write a chapter or two once a week.  He’s not exactly doing his part to stave off the Mighty Potentate’s conquest of Earth.

But you are, and that’s why your name will be added to the protected rolls once the MP rolls into town.

Good luck Dakota and stop by to let us know how your book launch went.

Alien Jones out.

Alien Jones is the Bookshelf Battle Blog’s intergalactic correspondent, graciously lending the power of his brain to answer your questions.

Ask the Alien a question and he may very well plug your book or blog in his answer.  Ask questions in the comments or tweet them to @bookshelfbattle

Together, we can promote self-published material and ween the masses off reality television, a form of entertainment that Alien Jones’ boss, the maniacal alien despot known as “The Mighty Potentate” despises so much that he’s plotting an invasion of Earth just to stop it.

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4 thoughts on “Ask the Alien – 5/15/16 – Genre Mashing with Dakota Kemp

  1. isilkemp says:

    Thanks, BQB! (And Alien Jones).

    Ironheart’s launch on the 12th went really well, landing at #1 in the YA Steampunk category for a short time and at #2 in Steampunk Science Fiction. (I think I suffered a mini-stroke when I saw it ahead of Jim Butcher’s latest novel, and I nearly injured myself trying to get a screenshot because I assumed the evidence would disappear at any moment).

    Anyway, yes, I was very pleased with the launch! Now the hard part begins – keeping sales at a steady stream instead of trickling away into oblivion…

    Thanks for taking the time to answer my lowly question! And keep up the good work on your own novels. I assume we’re going to get to see How the West was Zombed on amazon once you’re finished?

    Dakota Kemp

    • That’s pretty cool. Congratulations.

      I hope to get Zombed on Amazon one day. I hate to admit it but I’m going at a rather leisurely pace here.

      Just curious, how long did it take you to write your book, as in when you first put pen to paper and then finally got it up on Amazon?

      • isilkemp says:

        It took me a little over a year. Though, admittedly, Ironheart is my third book, so the process went a lot smoother than the previous two. (Also, Ironheart is 30,000 words shorter than The Arrival, my first novel, which is roughly 150,000 words.) The Arrival took me nearly two years, so that might be a more relevant example until you get your personal process figured out.

        It’s different for everyone, though, so what do I know? Some author’s have full time jobs contending for their
        writing time, some (like me) are going to school, others have lots of family responsibilities, or a mix of all or some of these.

  2. isilkemp says:

    Reblogged this on Dakota Kemp and commented:
    BQB addresses the genre-mashing conundrum…

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