Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Whine with My Cheese

Actually, I get to pimp books while I whine. What could be better?

I'd long thought of writing a story from the omega's point of view rather than the alpha's--that is from the weakest member of the group's pov rather than the leader's. When I focused on epic fantasy, I thought I would feature the sidekick who would change and grow yet not be the hero who saves the world. In urban fantasy, I imagined a story told by the lowest shifter in the pecking order who sees everything but is largely ignored.

So was excited (in that, "Great book, but damn, I wish I'd stop thinking about writing these things and actually do it before every old idea I have is done by someone else first" kind of way) when I started reading Kitty an the Midnight Hour and discovered she was just such a character. Kitty's a werewolf--yeah, ha ha--but don't let the humor fool you. After the brutal attack that changed Kitty, she was stuck with a pack lead by a brutal alpha pair. It's been years since the book debuted, but I vividly remember how I cringed and couldn't decide what was worse: what she suffered through or the fact that she took it. She had two sustaining things in her life--a good friend and job as a radio D.J. When the pack's alpha male tried to take the latter away, Kitty stuck up for herself and got on the path from victim to victor.

Each book was better than the last with character growth and more revealed not just about lycanthrops, but vampires as well. I *almost* missed out on book 4 having somehow convinced myself that I'd read it. Certain things had drastically changed in the opening of book 5, though, so I went back and devoured the story. Kitty came full circle, and with a vengeance.

That's where my whining came in. Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand isn't bad, but that's not exactly a glowing recommendation. How do I describe it without giving spoilers? Let's say it's a good idea gone a bit cheesy. By the time the steaks rose to an emotional high, my response was, "So what? Whatever." There were definitely some interesting things in the story. Sooner or later, series like this tend to take on the question of who's really a monster, and this book did it well. And when we got a peek of some of what's out there besides vampires and lycanthropes that actually made me tingle. Otherwise, it was like the comic relief episode in a serious show.

You know...horrible murders, more powerful that last demons combined enemy, and an oncoming apocalypse for the poor, hunky hunters of Supernatural leads an episode featuring a six foot tall, depressed teddy bear and bullied nine year old who gets his by canneling Zod a la Superman. Kneel before Todd! Only it's not so brilliant in the book.

I started asking a question that I know the answer to. How do you know when you've got a hit? Of course, you don't know. As writers we doubt our work when the stories are great. We cling to bad ideas, or good ideas with bad execution. And there's no way to know which is which except by trusting others who may also be wrong.

My story has gotten a few fans before it's ready to be seen by agents. What if those are the only fans it ever gets? What if the agents hate it? Worse...what if an agent loves it and convinces an editor who gets his publishing house to give me a fat advance, but then the book comes out and everyone declares it the worst book since what they thought was the worst book possible and... Yeah, I was panting by this point, lost in my own newbie hell.

I got over it. Mostly. Even better, when I went to mark this off as 'read' in my litte virtual bookshelf, I saw reviews from a whole lot of people who also thought that book 5 was good-but-not-Carrie-Vaughn-good and they say that book six rocks. I'll be getting that soon as I can. If you haven't tried the series, check 'em out!

Kitty and the Midnight Hour
Kitty Goes to Washington
Kitty Takes a Holiday
Kitty and the Silver Bullet
Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand
Kitty Raises Hell

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