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Publishing “diversity” (with an aside on The Wyrd #3).

Crane Hana on the state of diversity in publishing.

I haven’t really spoken about it much, because I’ve essentially been putting off making an “official announcement” for the last six months, but this is effectively what happened to BAD MEME, the third Wyrdverse book. It exists and is written, but didn’t push the Lain/Sigmund m/m hard enough for the publisher. BAD MEME is more of a supernatural thriller (I guess?) set in Melbourne, and while Lain is the lens through which the story is told, it’s mostly about a group of three friends–Roxx, Bich (a.k.a. Brianna), and Taylor–who make a creeypasta YouTube series called vicwalks. The antagonist of vicwalks is a monster called the Tooth Girl who, because this is the Wyrdverse, is summoned into reality by the show (hence Lain’s involvement).

Sketch of Bich from BAD MEME.

The problem with the BAD MEME is that the entire conflict revolves around the different things Roxx, Bich, and Taylor want to get out of vicwalks. Roxx, an abuse survivor, uses the story as a way to deal with her past pain. Bich wants to be “internet famous” and get movie deals in Hollywood. Taylor is a young tans boy at an all-girls school, who’s looking for a hobby away from the suffocating femininity of his home life. Meanwhile, Lain spends most of the book as “Elle” after Bich reads his gender as female when they first meet.

So on the scale of “queer urban fantasy”, BAD MEME still fits into that box. The box it doesn’t fit into is “m/m romance”: Sigmund only appears as a cameo character in a few scenes, and the few hints of romance that do exist mostly come from Bich crushing on “Elle”.

Unfortunately for yours truly, the publishing contract for the Wyrd series was more on the “m/m paranormal” side of the scale than the “urban fantasy with queer protagonists” side. The publisher didn’t want BAD MEME as-is, and requested I rewrite large sections of the book to include Lain/Sig. I ultimately decided I didn’t want to do this; BAD MEME deals with some heavy themes (i.e. abuse survival, gender dysphoria) that I felt it would be inappropriate to sideline in favour of writing relationship melodrama between two dudes. My other option was to write another book entirely; essentially selling the fourth Wyrd book in place of the third. I outlined something (codename: TRUTHTELLER) that ended up being like 95% love triangle. The problem was it didn’t really have a villain. Because, yeah. The other thing BAD MEME did was establish the long-term antagonist for the Wyrd series.

So TRUTHTELLER got trunked alongside BAD MEME, and that was the end of that: for the foreseeable future, the Books of the Wyrd will number two.

… That turned out into much more of an update than I intended. Oh well.

Finally, for anyone who’s interested: have an excerpt from BAD MEME, in which Bich and Elle encounter the Tooth Girl. Enjoy!

2018-11-26T08:16:53+00:0012th September, 2016|Tags: my art, publishing, wyrdverse|

LIESMITH: Release month freak-out edition.

Wow. So… yeah. October. How did that happen?

One year ago today I was, more-or-less, a nervous wreck. I had exactly one novel and about twenty rejections from literary agents, and a bunch more still sitting in the works. My thirtieth birthday was looming on the horizon, as a sort of artificial deadline I’d irrationally imposed on myself for “being an author”, like suddenly my fingers would all drop off and my brain would stop telling stories if I got to thirty-and-one-day without a publishing contract sitting in front of me.

As it turned out, that didn’t happen. I know this, because my agent’s offer of representation came four days after my 30th birthday, and, well. I still have all my fingers.

Eleven months later, and I’m staring down the release date for that novel. Back then, it was called WYRDTOUCHED.

Nowadays, it’s called Liesmith. Y’all might’ve heard me talk about it before.

So… yeah. This is the part where I prepare for things to get crazy again, I guess. Which is weird, because I still wake up every morning and get dressed and go to work–my day job, office work–and it’s like 99% of my life is still exactly the same. But that 1%…

I had a poster at a vendor booth a Comic Con. Did I mention that? I did, but I’m gonna mention it again. Because holy shit guys I’ve never even fucking been to Comic Con, and my fucking novel had a fucking poster up at one. Robin Hobb signed stuff in front of it. Robin fucking Hobb, man. I used to read her books when I was a kid, back when dad convinced me she was a bloke because “not many women write fantasy”. And now we’re in the same freakin’ vendor booth? What. The. Fuck. That is some serious alternate universe bullshit going on right there, she thinks, sitting at the dull beige desk in her dull beige cubicle, while somewhere off in the aether Alis Franklin, Professional Author, looks at marketing plans and promo art.

Basically, what I’m getting at is that the last eleven months have been an endless mantra of “just keep swimming, just keep swimming”. Because if I stop, and let things catch up to me…

Anyway.

Let’s start over.


Black and white photo book cover of a young man in a hoodie, holding a spear. The text "LIESMITH" appears at the height of his chest, written in red. The name of the author, Alis Franklin, and the publisher's logo, Hydra, appear at the bottom of the image.

Cover for Liesmith by Alis Franklin.

So hey. Did you hear I have a book out soon? It’s called Liesmith. It’s about Loki, sort of, and the mythos of Silicon Valley, sort of, and family and identity, definitely, and love. Always love, right?

It’s about nerds and geeks and about being who you are and being proud of who you are, because who you are is pretty damn great, even the bits that aren’t.

It’s about a boy who meets a boy, and the things that happen after. It’s also about a girl, and how far she’s prepared to go to rewrite a story she doesn’t like.

It’s about a seven foot tall anthropomorphic archaeopteryx, and a talking raven, and walls made from flesh, and a pair of goths, and the gods of death.

It’s about a guy who couldn’t shoot the broad side of a barn from five paces. Watch that one, it’s a spoiler.

But mostly, Liesmith‘s about having fun. I had fun writing it. And maybe, just maybe, if I’m lucky, you’ll have fun reading it, too.

If all goes to plan, Liesmith should be out next week, on October 7. If books about queer geeks, geeky gods, and Norse mythology are your thing, you might like to shelve the book on GoodReads (where you can also read a bunch of early reviews). If you’re feeling even more generous, you might even like to preorder:

US/Canada: Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Books-a-MillionAmazon.

Australia/New Zealand: Bookworld, Angus & Robertson.

UK: Amazon.co.uk.

As they say in publishing: more soon.

It’s gonna be one Hel of a month…

2018-05-22T08:55:23+00:001st October, 2014|Tags: gonzo author stories, liesmith, my art, wyrdverse, xp|

You gais, Imma gonna be an author!

So hey who remembers at the end of last year when I rambled about signing with my literary agent?

Well, you gais, you gais… Guess what just went live on Publishers Marketplace?

Alis Franklin’s WYRDTOUCHED, [note: since renamed LIESMITH] in which an exiled Loki, hiding out in Australia disguised as the CEO of a tech company, unleashes the wrath of Asgard by falling in love with a man in his IT department, to Sarah Peed at Random House, in a three-book deal, by Sara Megibow of Nelson Literary Agency (World).

That’s right! It’s me! Or, rather, my book. Books. Hopefully three of the suckers, because… eee!

/degenerates into a puddle of squee

And, look. I’m not super-articulate right now (my first sale as a Really Real Author! holy shit!), so in lieu of more words, here’s some Bad Character Sketches of LIESMITH’s soon-to-be-published protagonists:

Phew. Wow. Yeah. Much art. Very sketches.

So.

It’s been kind of an intense couple of months, as you can probably imagine, and by all indications it’s just going to get more intense from here on out. (Did I mention the part where I have to write two more books now? Holy shit!)

But before I go quietly hyperventilate in a corner, I’d just like to say one thing.

I’ve had LIESMITH kicking around in various incarnations and various states for the better part of my life, so finally getting it to this point–where it’s actually sold, to a publisher, as part of a multi-book deal–is both terrifying and exhilarating.

It’s those things for a whole bunch of reasons, but one of them is this:

LIESMITH is an urban fantasy and it is, unabashedly, an urban fantasy with a queer protagonist.1 The romance plotline–which, while it isn’t the story, is a freakin’ big chunk of it–is between two guys. Without giving away too many spoilers (hah!): it’s there, it’s on page. There’s kissing. No hints or subtext or innuendo allowed.

Did I mention the part where Random House–that’s Penguin Random House, literally the biggest publisher in the world right now–bought not just one but three of these books?

Do I think I would’ve been able to sell LIESMITH–as a debut author no less–five or ten or fifteen years ago? Maybe, probably not, and almost certainly not, in that order. (And not just because of my own relative level of writing ability.)

There’s something in that. And a lot of people who came before me, who I owe for beating down that door. Not to mention the support I’ve received from both my agent, Sara Megibow, as well as shiny new editor, Sarah Peed. Seriously. Those ladies rock, and the support and encouragement I’ve received has been amazing. (Go Team Sara[h]!)

The representation of GSRM characters in fiction in general, and genre fiction in particular, has been… somewhat patchy, shall we say? But things are changing. Slowly, but they are. Because representation is important, and the more voices there are in the chorus the better.

Mine’s only one. But, well.

I hope you’ll like its song.

More soon

  1. And the term “queer” rather than “gay” here is deliberate. Er… more thoughts on this later, perhaps? ^