"What’s it about?"

Saturday September 24, 2011 | By Hieronymus Hawkes | Blogging

I don’t know about you, but when people find out I’m writing a book, they get very excited and ask me what it’s about.  I have a real problem here.  I actually get a little embarrassed by this question, as if being a science fiction writer is akin to being a junkie or a male prostitute or something equally vile.  I don’t know why.  I love science fiction!  I mean I rarely read anything else, I love almost all the genres of SciFi equally.  I also like the vampire genre a great deal.  There is some really great stuff out there, and some really crappy stuff too.  I’m hopeful that mine’s not falling in the latter camp.
My WIP doesn’t fall into an easily definable category.  It’s not a vampire story that has roots in the Dracula type vampire, at least not completely.  It has elements of the traditional vampire, but mine are called Nemesi and they started from an alien virus.  See? … science fiction.  

The evolution of the story was organic, and even though the story arc is fairly linear, there are a lot of elements of different SciFi genre, as well as an entire story arc centered around a young woman, adding in more complexity.  I can’t think of another story that is actually “like” mine, so it’s hard to tell someone something like, “It’s like Stephen King and Anne Rice mixed together with a dose of Rod Serling.”  (Although that might be very close…j/k)

So it normally goes something like this: 
“That’s so cool that you’re writing a book, what’s it about?”
“It’s science fiction…”  

Then it goes one of two ways.  I measure their reaction.  If it’s an encouraging smile, then I try to explain a little bit more:
“It’s about an Air Force pilot that gets turned into a vampire and it’s a long time into the future…”  Something along those lines.  Sometimes they ask more, but usually they just nod and say, “That sounds cool, I want a signed copy.”  Like somehow I will have a truckload of them to give away for free.  Of course I’d be very excited to sell them a signed copy, at cost for crying out loud, don’t look at me like that!


They give me a clown smile, clowns are scary.  You know, a demented grin, like they are patronizing me.  Actually they are patronizing me. So it ends awkwardly, and we part company.

I really need to figure out how to answer this question with confidence and clarity.   Anyone else having this problem or is it just me?

Clear Ether!

10 Responses

  1. No, your comment thingy isn't broken! At least I'm pretty sure it isn't. We'll see once I post!Looks like you have to work on your pitch. And it's something you better get used to, because agents and editors will ask the same question.So, write down what your book is about. Then memorize it. 25 words or less work best. For instance: My book is a paranormal romance about a 259-year-old vampire who is implicated in the unauthorized turning of a woman who resembles his late wife. If the person is interested, they'll ask more questions. If not, then they'll probably say something like \”okay, cool.\” As you come to write your pitch, you will then realize it was EASIER to write the damn book. Same goes for your query. But all us writers have to go through that, huh? All part of being a writer.Good luck!

  2. I had the worst trouble with that with my first book. People would ask what it was about and I would say its a mystery. Being put on the spot like that makes it nearly impossible to give a succinct answer.

  3. Thanks for breaking teh ice Stacy! That's great advice! I have a start on my query letter already, just need to refine it into a pitch I reckon. Thanks for coming over and posting!

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