30 Days of Writing #8: Favorite Genre to Write and/or Read?

8. What’s your favorite genre to write? To read?

Historically it has been, for reading, science fiction. I cut my teeth on Asimov, Clarke, and Herbert (but not Heinlein or Tolkien, strangely enough — at least not until I was past my teen years and less prone to, shall we say, ‘exuberant overidentification’ with the worlds they created), plus rather more Star Wars and V tie-in novels than I would care to admit. And while SF is still a reading staple of mine, it has been eclipsed in my later years by fantasy and horror.

When I say ‘fantasy,’ I generally mean what I guess you’d call ‘urban’ fantasy – Simon R. Green’s Nightside series and Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series being examples. Also some works from the more eccentric wings of fantasy, such as the books of Avram Davidson and Hal Duncan. Plus, of course, Terry Pratchett’s wonderful and expansive works, both Discworld-based and not. Horror has drawn me in as well, including works by Clive Barker and Stephen King.

I think what draws me to such material in reading is the visceral nature of dark fantasy and horror – the way a good writer can draw you into the moment, despite (or because of) the sheer weirdness of the situation. It’s also why I don’t read all that much of traditional ‘high’ fantasy – there’s nothing in it that really calls to me. Viscerality is also a key component of works I enjoy outside SF and fantasy, such as the mystery/crime works of Michael Connelly (the Harry Bosch series) and Jeff Lindsay (whose Dexter series is a concept I dearly wish I’d come up with).

So it should be no surprise that my favorite genre to write, these days, is ‘dark/urban/fantasy/horror.’ Insofar as I might be expected to shoehorn Brutal Light into a category, that is where it would go. Visceral (and sometimes bloody) action, philosophical and metaphysical weirdness, and characters that (hopefully) show depth and some degree of realism as they try to deal with it all.

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