If you want to do something right…Posted: January 26, 2014
(Okay, that may not be the most inspirational title for an Australia Day blog post, but I think it sums up what I am about to say pretty well.)
I love urban fantasy. Love it! I’ve felt that way since I didn’t know what the genre was called—back when Interview With the Vampire was filed in the sci-fi and fantasy section of the bookstore and the paranormal shelves didn’t exist. (Say what you will about it, we have Twilight to thank for their creation.) I thoroughly enjoyed Anita Blake’s early adventures, and loved Sookie Stackhouse when she came along too.
When I started thinking about the sort of novel I might write, I toyed with fantasy, but urban fantasy drew me back like a lodestone.
Then I’d think about where to set the book, and come unstuck. Because all the urban fantasy novels I read were set in America or, less usually, England. Wouldn’t Americans (who, lets be honest, are the biggest market of English-speaking readers in the world) prefer to read books set in their own country? The streets of New Orleans, Chicago, New York—those were the places haunted and hunted by the supernatural. Not sunny Australia.
I could’ve tried to write a book set in the States—I did think about it—but I felt like a fraud. I knew my Australian slang would reveal the lie. I’ve never even been to America. How could I pull that off?
So I didn’t write the book. Because “write what you know”, right?
Over the past few years, urban fantasies—and their kissing cousin, the paranormal romance—have started to appear, set in Australia. Maybe they’ve been around for longer and I only just began to notice them through the blanket coverage of foreign authors in Australian chain bookstores.
Okay, I thought, I can do this. Only… those books were all set in Sydney or Melbourne. Could Canberra, with its population of 360,000, be a viable setting for an urban fantasy? It may be the nation’s capital, but almost no one outside Australia has heard of it. Two out of three tourists think Sydney is the capital. (I just made that stat up, but I’d bet it’s true!)
And then it hit me like a boomerang in the face: if someone needs to do it to test the water, to see whether it’s a viable location for an urban fantasy, why shouldn’t that be me? I’ve lived here all my life so it definitely ticks the “write what you know” box. I love this city, with its wide open spaces, bush corridors, national monuments and occasionally dubious public art*.
Of course my books are set here.
*If you want to see what I’m talking about, do a Google image search for “Belconnen owl” and tell me what you think it looks like from behind. Then search for “Skywhale”, because LOL.
This post is part of Aussie Owned and Read’s Australia Day/Blogaversary blog hop. You can find other participating blogs or register your own here. And there is a GIANT GIVEAWAY too, which you can enter here.