So many of us reinvent ourselves in the New Year, so we're asking authors who are rebranding themselves - through choice or necessity - how they go about a writerly reinvention.
As part of our special PHS Rebranding Edition, Shannon Curtis is talking about making the conscious decision to work in different subgenres...
I’m a writer, and I want/love/need to write. When I first started writing, I listened and learned as much as I could. I heard of a well-known author (who shall remain nameless), who’d just been told by her publisher that they weren’t interested in acquiring from her any more due to a new ‘editorial direction’, and I was stunned.
I learned a very valuable lesson. No matter how famous you are, no matter how many books you may have to your name, or however many readers who buy, read, follow you, etc., there is no guarantee that the publisher who bought your last book will buy your next book. For me, that moment crystalized into one important career lesson: don’t put all your eggs (or books) in one basket.
Early in my career, I made the conscious decision to write in different subgenres—although I was told that as a newbie writer I should focus on one area to build my readership and experience. I love writing romantic suspense and paranormal romance, and swing between these, book by book, so that a) I don’t fall unconsciously into the trap of writing the same old/same old, and b) to spice up my own creative spark.
When I was offered the opportunity to write contemporary romance novels for The Bold and The Beautiful franchise with Pan Macmillan, I jumped at the chance. I’d never written contemporary romance, and, frankly, it scared me, but it was a challenge from not only a writing perspective but also a career perspective. A little while later an opportunity arose for me to co-write a psycho-thriller serial, and again, I wanted to do this as a way of not putting all my books in the one basket, and to learn new skills as a writer.
I’m also a business woman, and one of my services was writing business plans for clients—getting to know their businesses, their needs, goals and objectives, along with their strengths, weaknesses, limitations and opportunities. I have always taken this approach to my own writing career. I’ve had to think long and hard about what I want to be known for in my writing, what kind of impression I want to make on readers—and what kind of writer promise I want to make to my readers, so that they know that when they pick up one of my books, they can be assured they will get the reading experience they expect—regardless of whether it’s a contemporary, romantic suspense or paranormal romance—or another subgenre I’m yet to be published in (watch this space, ;) ).
When I received word that Harlequin was closing its Nocturne line, I was surprised by the irony. I was writing a story of characters undergoing transformation, and the next novel in the Shadow Breeds series also has characters undergoing a reluctant, unplanned transformation. I suddenly had a series that would not be renewed, along with many other authors. It’s saddening, as I had many more stories to tell with the Shadow Breeds universe—who knows, an opportunity may arise for me to continue the series in some form or other. It’s also exciting.
In two books time I am out of contract (and the first of those two novels is pretty much complete). I choose to look at this as a liberating time. I can try something new, learn something new, write something new, and find new readers. Whether it’s more romantic suspense, or contemporary, or possibly even young adult fiction, I’m ready for this new chapter in my writing career.
Shannon's latest release, Vampire Undone, is out now. For more information about her and her writing check out her website, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.