Today I’m happy to welcome one of my favorite Twitter peeps and all-around cat lover, Jody Wallace, to the blog. Jody is here to talk about cats, the writing process, and her upcoming book, Catagenesis.
The Experience Awaits…
A recent hilarious Twitter thread got my brain churning about how hard it is to sum up our books as authors. The thread asked folks to reimagine their books AITA (Am I The Asshole?) style, and many of the contributions were just splendid. I jumped in with my WiP, the third book in the Cat Ship series, Catagenesis:
“I (3035f) woke after cryosleep to find out I’m in the wrong century and cats (???mf) can talk. I don’t want to work with a way too handsome local (40m) to solve a murder, but someone on the ship (???mf) or maybe the cats have killed again. AITA for suspecting…EVERYONE?”
These few lines were not easy to write. Isn’t that sad? Took a good (bad?) 20 minutes. It’s a silly little wheeee about a book I’m in the middle of, a book I’m proud of, a book I can’t wait to share with readers. But when asked to talk about this or any book, I often don’t know what to focus on. Any cats in the book, sure, but what else? The romance? The adventure? The drama? That perfect paragraph with that great metaphor I’m so proud of in Chapter Eight? (Probably not.) You have, like, two sentences before you start to sound like a self-centered twerp, so your elevator pitch has got to be all grabby and clever.
Yet it rarely feels right.
When you’re creating a book, it can be difficult to step back and see the big picture. You’re enmeshed in the tiny details… That plot point you fear you didn’t do justice to, the big event you may have foreshadowed too much, the sly jokes that might come off flat. For the author sometimes there is no forest; there are only these damned trees! (And hopefully some cats.)
As a reader, I believe you can sometimes more efficiently summarize a book than the author because you aren’t worried about the facets of the story that that you, the author, think readers should treasure. Readers read/hear and feel very individualized reactions, so when they summarize, they are sharing their personal experience of the narrative. Some things about a book can be factual, and some are absolutely based on impressions. Different readers and reviewers can also point out very distinctive things in a book, honing in on their favorite parts (or least favorite), completely skipping things that other reviewers dwelled on. That doesn’t mean readers are wrong, it means they experienced the book this way and someone else experienced it that way.
Because books and stories are an experience. A happening. A journey for the brain. They’re certainly an experience for the author, while writing them, and they are an experience for the reader that no other reader will undergo in the exact same way. A good writer knows this, and for me that’s part of what makes creating a summary or blurb so hard. I have no idea how readers will experience my book, but I want to truthfully represent it, plus be enticing at the same time.
Summarizing…may be a somewhat different skill set than writing the book itself. So all the best to readers and reviewers and their unique experiences of the worlds that authors create! May your adventures in the pages be as awesome as mine when I’ve got my reader hat on and I’m devouring some other author’s world.
Now I will share the Twitter thread for your enjoyment! https://twitter.com/novelistanna/status/1434299078624546816
About the Book:
Series: Cat Ship #3
Published by: Meankitty Publishing
Release Date: 2021
Contributors: Jody Wallace
Genres: Adventure, Comic SF, Post-Apocalypse, Romance, Science Fiction, Space Opera
Two humans, a bunch of cats, a space ship…and a murder. Probably.
Han-Ja Gee has made his very fine living on Trash Planet trading information and secrets with those who are willing to pay, either in money or in more secrets. He thought he knew everything…until a cat that he was pretty damn sure was NOT a robot interrupted a business meeting in an event that took place in book 2 of the Cat Ship series, Catapult. (obvs this is not the official blurb). Han-Ja is determined to find out more about these cats and sell that information to the highest bidder, becoming as rich as any noble ever dreamed.
Farah Shine Collins, daughter of Dear, Dear Barbara, is the last human to come awake on the ancient and damaged Cat Ship. Her adjustment to this new world of sentient cats and literal garbage and the opposite of the paradise the colonists on the ship were promised is not smooth going, especially not when some shit happens that involves interfering cats, allergies, Han-Ja, murder, hijinks, and everyone suspecting everyone else.
About the Author:
Jody Wallace’s 30+ titles in sf/f and contemporary romance feature diverse protagonists, action, adventure, and plenty of cats. Visit her at www.jodywallace.com and the cats at www.meankitty.com. Her newsletter is a BLAST and is highly recommended.
You can read Jody’s next cat-filled, exciting space adventure, Catagenesis, coming soon! Visit www.jodywallace.com to find out more.