In Which There is Mad Genre-Envy

“When I was little,” she began, “I used to dream of spiders.”

A lot of my friends from Critique Circle write speculative fiction, fantasy, and various forms of sci-fi. I’m envious of them for it. There seems to be something less confining when you have the freedom to determine every last aspect of your setting. Fairies and wizards? Check. Oh, but there is also a giant-ass volcano that spits sugar cubes into the air. Then they explode and turn into giant turd bombs. Sweet. 

My choice of thriller fiction leaves me in the confines of a world that’s already been determined by history. Sure, I’ve taken some liberties by reopening Alcatraz in my world, but other than that I’ve done my best to stay within the realm of what is possible. Don’t get me wrong, I love it. I’ve always found there is more of a challenge to it because I can’t simply throw in a sugar cube turd spewing volcano because it simply fits.

It does become problematic, however, when I decide that I don’t care for a certain scene and it simply must be rewritten and wouldn’t a turd volcano (‘turdcano’) fit well in this particular spot? No feces volcanoes for me, no sirree. It often means looking at outside sources, news stories and, more often than not, reddit, for inspiration. Sometimes it works, other times no. Only time will tell I suppose.

This genre-envy that I was suffering has diminished slightly in the last week as I narrowed my gaze at the little intricate parts of The Code Book 1 that need to be solidified before it will be ready for self-publishing. There was always some question in the back of my head about how I could possibly up the ante on the creepy/mystery factor in a way that would stretch throughout the entire series. The major question always was where to draw the line. Where does it go from being a simple thriller to spec fiction to full on fantasy territory? The jolly good part about the mad globalization that we are experiencing is that we can be exposed to a higher volume of authors who have experimented with mixing reality and fantasy (Hello Neil Gaiman, John Connolly, etcetc.) It makes you feel less confined by the rules of the genre. Why can’t my protagonist in a thriller be haunted by a spooky supernatural-esque force? Why can’t there be a Turdcano? In the last week I’ve (confidently) been able to develop my own thread of spooky, ethereal feeling oddity for The Code Series, and I must say, I’m pretty proud of it.

The Code, as a plot device, is a bit macguffinish I suppose. Everyone wants it, we don’t really know why (well, I know.) Meanwhile our heroine needs to be motivated by something else. She doesn’t want the Code. She could care less about the damn thing. All she is concerned about is survival.

And spiders. As a child she dreamed of spiders all the time, but as with all things in our youth, those particular idiosyncrasies eventually subsided and she never thought about those spiders again. She never worried about the way they twitched under her skin in her dreams, or snapped at her flesh as they wove in between her fingers and toes. But now the spiders are back, escaping her subconscious and leading her enemies straight to her door.

Because Natalia Artison used to dream about spiders, and someone else is dreaming about her.

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