Guest Blogger: Mindy Klasky
Do you remember getting one of those amazing boxes of 64 crayons when you were a kid? Some of the colors were similar, but each had a unique name. Blue-Green was much more green than the somewhat confusingly named Green-Blue (it was always the last color in the name that dominated the shade.)
And are you old enough to remember the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup advertising campaign, the spots where one person was single-mindedly eating a chocolate bar and another person was single-mindedly eating peanut butter? They collided, and they started to complain ("You got chocolate in my peanut butter! You got peanut butter on my chocolate!") And then they realized that they'd invented an amazing combination taste treat?
I think of crayons and candy every time I sit down to write. (No, not just because I'd rather be illustrating my work in 64 colors. And not because I need a snack. WANT a snack, yes, but need a snack? No.)
Once upon a time, I was an author of classic fantasy novels. My first six novels, The five volumes of The Glasswrights Series and a stand-alone called SEASON OF SACRIFICE, were created for a traditional fantasy audience. They were set in pseudo-medieval worlds, where caste and hierarchies determined characters' abilities to act. They had wholly imagined settings, unlike any place in the real world. They were blue. They were chocolate.
Now, though, I write paranormal romance. My Jane Madison Series is a bit more complex than my early fantasies (even if the books themselves are lighter, more humorous.) GIRL'S GUIDE TO WITCHCRAFT, SORCERY AND THE SINGLE GIRL and MAGIC AND THE MODERN GIRL tell the story of Jane Madison, a librarian in contemporary Washington, D.C., who discovers that she's a witch. There are some fantastic (stemming from fantasy) aspects of the story-telling: Jane awakens a familiar, transforming a statue of a cat into a living, breathing man. She works spells, using crystals and runes. There is plenty of fantasy, plenty of blue, plenty of chocolate.
But there's also green and peanut butter in Jane Madison's world. At the same time that Jane grapples with her magic identity, she's trying to work out her role as an ordinary woman -- a girlfriend, a best friend, a daughter, a granddaughter. She worries about her job, and about paying the rent. She obsesses (just a little) about clothes and makeup. There's green, to contrast with the blue. Peanut butter, to contrast with the chocolate.
Individual chapters of the books sway more to the magic than the real world -- they're the classic Crayola combination "Green-Blue." Other chapters emphasize the human, the ordinary - the creamy core of the peanut butter cup, with just a bit of tongue-teasing chocolate around the edges.
Combined, the Jane Madison series is something wholly separate from plain blue or plain green, from lonely chocolate or lonely peanut butter.
Some of my traditional fantasy readers have followed me along my path of writing evolution. Other Jane Madison readers have back-tracked into my older works. I receive regular email encouraging me toward old blends, or demanding new ones. For now, I'm enjoying the variety that Paranormal Romance enables -- I'm a chemist in my writing kitchen.
What about you? Do you prefer books that are more single-minded in their approach -- more pure fantasy, more pure romance, more pure chick-lit? Or do you like blends? Let me know in comments below -- I'll be choosing one commenter at random to receive a copy of one of the Jane Madison Series books (your choice, which one!) Leave your email address, or check back here to see who won!