Heard Back from My Agent on Tarnhelm

For those of you playing along at home, yes–I’m still sick. Really hacking and wheezing today, and it doesn’t help that I can’t seem to sleep past 4 in the morning. Sigh. There’s always tomorrow.

In the “Good News” category, I heard back from my agent yesterday. I’d sent him the latest draft of Tarnhelm about a month ago, and he’d read it and evaluated it. Verdict? I’m 80% of the way there. He had some very solid observations about key elements of the book that need to be tweaked and improved so that the whole thing works together. Better yet, they’re fixes I can actually do. 🙂

Of course, there’s always the dreaded “will there be an audience for this book” issue to deal with. If you’ve read much of my stuff, you might have noticed that sometimes I don’t seem to end up writing books that are very mainstream. Ichabod is an exploration of reader response theory mashed up with Woody Allen’s Purple Rose of Cairo. And can we say talking alpacas?

Tarnhelm is a YA Noir with (mostly) light fantasy elements. If you look over the bookshelves in YA sections of bookstores these days, you might notice that there aren’t really a whole lot of YA Noir books out there to begin with–let alone fantasy noir. (Actually, if any of you know of any books in this vein, please pass them on to me. I’d really like to see any you’ve come across.)

So I’m not really following any current literary trends by writing this book.

But there *have* been precedents, at least in TV and movies. Veronica Mars, Brick, and the Assassination of a High School President are three examples that leap to mind. And I loved Veronica Mars, really enjoyed Brick, and found Assassination intriguing. That’s good. But audiences didn’t flock to Veronica strongly enough to keep it alive past three seasons, and Brick only managed to squeak past the 2 million mark domestically. So . . . not exactly a horde of pent up desire for the genre, it seems.

Why did I write it? Because I wanted to. Because it was a book that had been kicking around in my head for years, and it was time to get it out there and see what it could do. Because I think it’s a pretty fun read.

In the end, all it takes is for an editor to see the same things in the book that I see. I can’t be the only person to love Veronica Mars (I know I’m not)–and if someone told me there was a book out there like Veronica, but with a bit of fantasy thrown in on the side, I’d be all over it. (But of course I would–I just wrote a book like that. I’m clearly part of the target audience). And if the book did some cool riffs on a Maltese Falcon theme? I’d be even more excited.

So . . . we’ll see. I’m going to revise the book one more time (hopefully finishing before the end of January), and then once it’s looking good to me and my agent(s), then it’s time to send the little bird out of the nest and see if it flies or splats. And while it’s struggling to gain altitude, I’ll be at work on my next book: a fusion of Ocean’s 11, Mission Impossible, and Holiday Mythology. It’s a YA heist fantasy.

Because there are *tons* of books like that out there. I’m totally chasing the market now. Right?

5 thoughts on “Heard Back from My Agent on Tarnhelm”

  1. Veronica Mars died after three seasons because two of those seasons were horrible. As for Brick, well, it’s one of the best movies of the last few years, so I don’t know what to tell you there. People are stupid?

  2. You really thought the last two seasons of VM were horrible? They weren’t as good as the first, I’ll grant you, but I reserve horrible for much larger violations against humanity.

    Glad to see I’m not alone in my love for Brick, though.

    And yes, people are stupid. Especially people who don’t agree with me. But we knew that already, didn’t we?

  3. Have you checked out the Echo Falls Mysteries by Peter Abrahams? Those are classic YA noir. It felt like i was reading about Veronica Mars when she was in middle school. There was one I read this summer that kinda smacked of a grown up Nancy Drew: “Texas Gothic” by Rosemary Clement-Moore. Oh, have you tried “These Things I’ve Done” by Gabrielle Zevin? However, most of the noir I see is Adult. Can you say “Janet Evanovich”? There’s even the fantasy crossover element for authors like Jim Butcher, Rachel Caine,etc etc But not so much in YA. I think it’s more popular in Adult lit b/c adults are so focused on their careers, so it’s a natural subconscious segue to read about the troubles a protagonist has at a job. For teens these days, for some reason their subconscious’s are obsessed with post apocalyptic destruction. Or unattainably hot supernatural boys. Maybe that says something about our high school culture. Anywhoo- I hope your book is a rocking success that begins a whole new era in the YA market. Heaven knows we need it!

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