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February 25th, 2007

survival tip #135631: Angel vids

on your knees
No, seriously. Angel vids are a key component of my Super-Duper No, Seriously Really Real Plan to Take Over the World And/Or Write a Novel.

I'm not that sure why. My novel has no vampires, and is not set in L.A. -- Angel vids are generally chock full of vampires and L.A. My protagonist isn't especially Angel-like, except inasmuch as he's a big guy who can kick your ass but still feels pretty out of his depth among, well, people, and in, you know, situations. (Actually, now that I think about it, if David Boreanaz were to become the nexus of some horrible reality-sliding event and suddenly Seely Booth was the fearless leader of Angel Investigations, *that* would bear a certain resemblance to my novel. Ponderous....)

I don't really know, except that Angel is a good example of dark contemporary fantasy that lives in that grey zone between Dreadfully Epic and Excruciatingly Personal -- and that's what I'm trying to write.

Most books in this little mini sub-genre (the Urban Faerie Novel) seem to founder in that zone somewhere -- and I say this on the strength of having a Great Wonking List of Books (84, actually) within that sub-genre that I'm in the process of reading this year (the idea being that at least now if I peck out some horrible cliche, I'll realize I'm doing it -- the hope being that I'll get so pissed off at Those Things Everybody Keeps Doing that I'll dig up a better way to do it: and yes, I learned that trick from fandom). They either become these big sturm-und-drang bloodsoaked behemoths (I'm talking to *you,* Blood and Iron), or else they stay kind of weirdly private to the point where, you know, I hardly like *anybody* enough to care that much if they get to marry their elf boyfriend or not. (Another thing I've learned: chicks dig elves. What the fuck *is* that all about, anyway? Other than a massive promotional obstacle for my novel, where all the romantic leads are more your axe-wielding trollish barbarian type. What, I like guys who like to hit stuff. Is that so wrong?)

Anyway, my point is. Angel was good at that -- for all the utter incoherent sloppiness of a lot of the later seasons in terms of plot, it always managed to be very much about the characters while not descending into that kind of silly soapiness of bad fanfiction and bad television medical dramas, where I'm supposed to care about whoever's feelings more than I do about anything else in the fictional universe. So maybe I'm drawn to it right now for that reason.

Also, it always had great fight scenes. And I would just like to say that it is clearly MASSIVELY SELF-DESTRUCTIVE of me to have chosen fantasy as my primary genre, because you almost have to have, you know, action sequences. Which are really fucking terribly difficult to write, which is why I normally write slash, where you can just start at the part right after the action sequence that someone else kindly designed, scripted, blocked, filmed, and edited for you. However, after looking around in vain for some kind of ringer that I can bring in to write all my fight scenes for me, it seems I'm going to have to write them all myself. I had two in the last two chapters, which is why it took me THREE FUCKING WEEKS to write the last two chapters. Thank Christ I'm onto the part now where they all sit down and go, "What the hell just happened back there?" Standing around talking, woot!!11! The only way it could be better is if they were talking about their feelings. Which they aren't. They're pretty much still stuck back on, "Hey, remember when that guy stabbed me? WTF was up with that?"

You know what else helps me write? Chai lattes. It's pretty much chai lattes, Angel vids, and my seething sense of superiority to the people who are already writing these books -- like, wtf, Herbie Brennan and Laurell Hamilton, these are seriously what I'm up next to? Grrrr, arrg.

the gambler's guide to urban faerie

follow you home
Some of these books I've read, some I'm still getting to. Some of them are good, some are terrible. This is not a rec list! This is the list I've put together to read or re-read while I'm writing my novel, figuring you can learn as much from a failed attempt as a successful one, and that the most important thing is to be aware of what else has been written in this subgenre.

Most of these books take place in a modern setting, our Earth or the near equivalent, and involve faeries interacting with humans. I included adult, YA, and some kids' books. I also made a couple of alterations to the usual theme -- a couple of these are about humans-meet-faeries in a historical Earth setting rather than a modern one, and a couple are just significant examples of urban fantasy, sans faeries. I also threw in a couple of short story collections. In the case of series, I'm only including the first one (or the relevant one for my purposes), although it's possible I'll keep reading if the first one is particularly good. (Exception: the Bordertown series, which I know I'm going to read all of, because it was essentially my formative influence, and I still love it.)

I think it would be fun to review some or all of these, too, but I don't know if I'll actually have the time or energy to do so.

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