Monday, October 18, 2010

Guest Blog by Chris Kelly - My Mum Hates My Book


She doesn’t, but I had to call this post something. In fairness, it wasn’t a complete lie. I know her tastes fairly thoroughly, and if she ever read my book, she’d hate it. Now don’t get me wrong, she’d be happy I wrote a book, but vampires... steam-powered Iron Man-like power-suits... assassination plots?

She prefers books about people beating cancer, or people not beating cancer sometimes. I don’t write what she reads, and I reckon I’d rather never read again than read what she reads. We’re different people, at different stages in our lives, with different tastes and desires, dreams and hopes. So it’s not completely ridiculous to say “my mum hates my book.”

But that doesn’t mean my book is shit, either. Samantha recently blogged a review on my book, and it seems like she enjoyed it. Other people have tweeted that they couldn’t put it down. So does that mean it’s good?

Well, no, because it is never as simple as that. Taste is subjective. People like different things, and different things are good for different people.

I read a post recently on Zoe Winter’s blog ( ) about a writer worrying her mum would read her sex scenes. It’s not something I’ve ever worried about. And not just because my mum won’t read my books.

Okay, my next novel (Nasty Foul-Smelling Mean-Spirited Ugly Little Goblinses is the next one I’ll write. If all goes well I’m hoping for a pre-Christmas release. I’ve just started the planning. You can follow my journey on the blog I set up just for this, Goblins {}) won’t have sex in it either, but it will have lots of sex talk, jokes and innuendo. This is a Young Adult book, incidentally.

My current book, Matilda Raleigh: Invictus, might alienate readers. It’s steampunk in the setting, some characters, but the plot is more historic urban fantasy, and the main character and the pacing and the sheer number of fight scenes are sword and sorcery. It’s fast, it’s exciting, it’s deadly. When I was writing it I could have worried about steampunkers hating the S&S elements, or vice versa, but I didn’t.

You have to shut those voices out when you write. Especially if you’re an indie. See, if I submitted Invictus to a traditional publisher I know they’d have wanted me to change it. How would depend on the editor, but some would say it was too steampunky, and others would say it wasn’t steampunky enough. It’s because, by combining two genres I have essentially created a new, third genre (I call it steam and sorcery, by the way).

Because I’m an indie I don’t have to fit an editor’s view of what is marketable. Marketable, in traditional publishing, means what there is already a market for. There’s a market for steampunk, and Cherie Priest does very well. There’s a market for sword and sorcery, and Conan still sells well. But there’s a market for indie books, and that market consists of people looking for something that hasn’t been done before. That market is people who are looking for books that are a little (or a lot) different.

That’s the market for steam and sorcery. That’s the market for YA stories about good but ugly goblins and a sex mad princess trapped in the body of a 3 ft high Barbie fighting an evil child-stealing Santa (my next book; I’m super-excited). It’s the market for Invictus ( If you’re in that market, take a chance on the world’s debut steam and sorcery novel, and if the genre explodes, you’ll be able to say you read it before it was cool.

If you’re writing to that market, do something weird and cool, shut out the voices that tell you no one will buy it, and write what you love. Because with six billion plus people in the world, someone will buy your book.

Chris Kelly’s debut novel, Matilda Raleigh: Invictus, has recently been released on Smashwords, and will be heading out to most other retailer’s soon. A steampunk/sword and sorcery cross about a 72 year old woman reluctantly having to save the British Empire again, it has been reviewed on this blog in the post just before this one. LOL. He lives in Scotland with his wife and three daughters and has never killed anyone. Honestly.

Follow him on Twitter:!/IndieChris

Stalk him on Facebook:

Browse his blog and search his site or just skip to the exciting bit, and buy his book

Thanks, Samantha, for letting me torture your readers today.


  1. Not a problem Chris, thanks for letting me torture your readers as well! ;)

  2. They weren't tortured. Your post was well received.

  3. With family members, probably the best way is just to give them a fair warning to the effect of, "I wrote 'X' book. You may not like it or approve of it, but I thought that I'd let you know in advance."