I’ve had a few people inquire about my upcoming debut novel, STORMBLOOD, in regards to its genre and the audience it’s appealing to. Mainly if STORMBLOOD is a horror novel, or belongs in the horror genre, and if not, what genre is does belong to.
I wanted to clarify this by stating that STORMBLOOD isn’t a horror novel, it is not a body horror novel, nor does it have elements of the horror genre. It’s a space opera that combines a widescreen, future setting with elements of mystery, noir, and police procedural. The emphasis is on exuberance with a strong element of wonder, combined with a broodish, (slightly) cynical voice with a dry and ironic sense of humour.
Literary legend J. Cuddeon defines a horror story as “a piece of fiction… which shocks, or even frightens the reader, or perhaps induces a feeling of repulsion or loathing” (his words, not mine). That’s not the sort of thing I’m interesting in reading or writing, especially for a novel-length work. I write what I want to read. Simple as that. At the end of the day, fiction that induces “repulsion or loathing” isn’t my cup o’ tea. I like a good thrill as much as anybody, but that comes from narrative tension. Mood and tone are a different kettle of fish, and fiction that “repulses” isn’t something I want, or even know how to do.
In writing STORMBLOOD, I wanted there to be an element of danger, of tension, but I also worked hard to instill a sense of exuberance. A sense of wonder. I want the reader to encounter kilometre-long spaceships and different alien species and brain-bending gadgets and get a kick out of the scope and the coolness of it. To marvel at the idea of entire cosmopolitan, urban cities nestled inside a hollowed-out asteroid larger than the moon, of AIs with animal brains, neural-links, three-dee printers, etc.
To follow the complication of narrative leads with a twisting, looping plot. I want there to be a sense of adventure, of progress. To be in the same vein as space opera authors like Ken Macleod, Cj Cherryh, Iain M. Banks, Hannu Rajaniemi and Alastair Reynolds: instilling a sense of adventure and progress, solving a mystery while encountering byzantine technology and brain-bending concepts against the backdrop of a widescreen, very futuristic, very cool setting. It’s what I’ve been reading all my life, so it’s only natural I took the same literary lifeblood and distilled it into my own writing. It’s an exuberant, character-driven space opera, and this is going to be reflected in all marketing, covers, etc.
As it is, my publisher has described STORMBLOOD as such on Amazon:
A vibrant and talented new voice in SFF: alien technology, addictive upgrades, a soldier determined to protect his family, and a thief who is prepared to burn the world down . . .
Again: I don’t do sustained tone very well, let alone repulsion or loathing, my brain isn’t wired for it. STORMBLOOD combines a lot of things: mystery, adventure, space opera, crime, tension, exuberance, but horror isn’t one of them. It’s going to sit firmly in the science-fiction section of the store, not the horror section! I’m writing this to avoid future confusion, to clarify for people who were confused and to ensure that STORMBLOOD reaches the right people who are looking for what’s inside it, and not something else entirely I didn’t write. I apologise for the misdirection!