What kind of books do I write?

When asked I always find it so difficult to answer that question. I certainly do not write genre fiction, even though my books contain elements of many genres; notably mystery and comedy. So, because I do not write genre fiction I guess I class myself as literary, but that conveys nothing other than my writing not being genre. So let us try and break out of this denominational straight jacket. I have, in the past, been labelled as a magic realist and I can accept that – I mean why shouldn’t my village live under a bowl of cold stars; be peopled (or is it dogged) with three-legged dogs pissing up against old fashioned lamp-posts, and why shouldn’t the leggy lamp lighter stride in with his long pole to flare up each gas lamp with a bang, so chasing the hobbling dogs away – and all enacted beside a river teeming with dead, pink-bellied fish floating on their backs upon its surface. So now I suppose I will have to tell you about the dead fish, and that’s political because the local dyeworks has been dumping in the river again, and most of us are dependant on the fish we catch from that particular stretch of water. But when the naked body of the factory manager was seen floating pink-belly up on the river, things took a serious turn for the worse. The banner I have chosen to head my blog is neither representative of the way I live, nor of the way I should want to live; but it is representative of my mind. (And yes the banner is no longer there since I changed my theme, that is my presentational style). A long picture gallery is exactly how my mind might appear if by some magic one could see inside. I amble through, slowly inspecting and describing the detail I see in one painting after another. Noting connections. Yet the pictures in my gallery are more than paintings, much more, they are able to arouse all the senses; smell, touch, hearing. I can put my hand within the frame and they come alive. Speak to me. Ken McLeish wrote in his Sunday Times review of The Brightside Dinosaur ‘(he) brilliantly keeps up his balancing act between harshness, fantasy and wit. He belongs to the tradition of the story-teller as magician; he unpicks the patterns of ordinary lives and shows us wonders.’ If that is true then I have succeeded in developing the writing style I set out to achieve. And if my writing entertains, for that is what I want more than anything, then I have succeeded at that level too, producing a fusion of the literary and the genre.


2 thoughts on “What kind of books do I write?

  1. It is interesting that you say that your mind is like a gallery. Xerox, the inventor of the computer graphic interface (borrowed by both Apple and Microsoft), initially called its graphical user interface, Rooms. If I remember this bit of history rightly. And what used to be called directories and are now called folders were the rooms in the user’s gallery.


  2. Larry, you indicate an interesting extension of my metaphor, for what are three dimensional framed paintings if they are not cubes? And how might one describe such cubes that fill with teeming life other than as rooms? It would have been more accurate then for me to describe my mind as a corridor down which I am able to wander inspecting many different rooms. Not so grand as the gallery. Perhaps a little more Kafkaesque, and that might explain the more obscure aspect of my writing. Thanks for pointing out such a fascinating connection. I can see how those who work with cyberspace would have struggled with the idea of ‘rooms’. Far better that they should flat-pack them into ‘folders’.


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