Tuesday, May 5, 2009

The Author's Brand: How to Find It.

After writing yesterday’s post, I began to think more seriously about trying to define what kind of novels I write. Some people refer to this as an author’s brand. I’m not unlike most authors. I looked at various genres and said, “I could write that, if I tried.” While that may be true, I went back and looked at all of my previous novels, the manuscript that’s still buried in a slush pile somewhere, the tale I pulled the pug on because I felt it was too far removed from what I write and my current work in progress (WIP). I asked myself how these are similar to each other and how they are different from what I see from other authors.

The common thread in all of my novel length fiction is that they are all about families. It goes a little farther than that. All have a healthy church family that provides a moral center and a support structure, though some of the characters are hostile toward that. So, if you’re wondering what I write about, I write about families.

Let’s look at the specifics. In Searching for Mom, the family is obvious. Sara never knew her mother and she feels that she is missing something that all the other kids have. She uses the Internet to find a woman who will be a mother for her and a wife for her father. The church is there to some degree because she first looks for someone at church, before turning to the Internet.

With How to Become a Bible Character, the church family is the primary family, while other families make their appearance as well. If you dissect the story, I think what you will discover is that the story is about how God is using the church family to accomplish great things while Neal is trying to be more than he was intended to be.

For the Love of a Devil is based on that great love story we find in the Book of Hosea. I can hardly say that without someone saying, “I read Redeeming Love,” but they are two very different stories. For the Love of a Devil has that same thread I mentioned above in that it is about a man struggling to care for three children while his wife is off looking for something better with other men.

Cowtown Homecoming, which is unpublished, is about a non-traditional family, involving a mother and daughter that aren’t really mother and daughter and a stranger that is actually a family member. And yes, there is a healthy church as well.

Then there is my WIP. In this case, the family is a broken family. The healthy church is still there because the woman in this broken family is the church secretary that you may remember from when Wayne tells about chasing the rat in How to Become a Bible Character.

That’s what I write. I write about families. What about you? What is your chosen genre? What threads do you see running through your work?