NaNoFeed: Genre Trouble, part 1

As mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’m taking a little time off from my novel … well, at this point, a one-day break. Tomorrow, December 1, I start work again.

Last night I came home late and did what I hadn’t dared to do (or had time to do) all November: read my novel from beginning to end, more or less to ask the question: what is this thing?

I wasn’t sure about the answer. I’d defiantly subtitled it as “A Love Story,” and the storyline is a sweet romance between the principals, the Necromancer (a 35-year-old forensic artist) and the Barbarian (a 17-year-old resurrected Iron Age sacrifice). The background, of course, is made of disturbing, and intentionally so: the Necromancer is a Chernobyl downwinder who isn’t sure of her own life expectancy, and the Barbarian was done in by his own folk. The relationship is cross-cultural, cross-temporal and dramatically cross-generational, in what’s generally considered an unacceptable direction. Who is too young for whom? Elsa, the Necromancer, doesn’t look Northern European, but she’s as culturally German as I could make her; the Barbarian, on the other hand, looks the part but is very definitely not one of them.

It’s a first draft, with all the bagginess and non-existing pacing that implies. My first drafts generally lack dramatic conflict, even when I have a plot structure. I’m too busy writing it all down to be graceful about setting up the train wrecks. I’m not even in control of the cast list; characters sprang into being by spontaneous generation. I ended up with a nicely gothic subplot about Elsa’s philandering father. I did get to write the fight scene in the bog, which was nicely horrifying.

What genre is this? I don’t know, but I love the idea of a sweet romance made of disturbing ingredients, raising disquieting questions about time and mortality, racial and cultural identity, biological kin and families of affinity. Not to mention a critical look at the ways that people have lived with each other, or not, and attempted to rationalize their lack of control over the universe.

 

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