How Not To Be An Author

This is my fourth author blog. I’d like to say that it’s the first one I’ve started where I actually knew what I was doing, but that would be a lie. I have more of an idea this time around, but I haven’t mastered the art of anything yet.

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I got published kind of by accident, you see. I’ve always been a keen reader and writer of science-fiction and fantasy, and it had always been my dream in life to be a SF/F author. I’d even written and submitted a manuscript, back in the old days when you had to do it by snail mail. But then I got discouraged. I also got the internet and discovered fanfiction. “I’ll just let myself write a few stories about Qui-Gon Jinn,” I lied. “And then I’ll get back to trying for publication with my own stuff.

It’s already too late to cut a long story short, but ten years later, I was still writing fanfiction. I had discovered slash fiction, gone through a religious crisis in which I briefly but genuinely believed I was damned. (That wasn’t very nice.) Come out the other side – with my religion intact but improved – as a writer of slash fiction. And then I was enthralled by Pirates of the Caribbean, and I went on what I thought was a typical brief sidetrack into being fascinated by the British Royal Navy.

During that period, I discovered that m/m romance publishers existed. Seized with a fit of ‘why the hell not?’ I submitted a novel-length story that I had cobbled together out of my Pirates of the Caribbean fanfiction to one of them. No one could have been more surprised than me when they snapped it up. Suddenly, and without really trying, I had become a published author in the field of m/m historical romance.

This was absolutely fantastic, except for one thing. I don’t actually like romance.

Duely, I set up my first blog on WordPress – Alex Beecroft’s blog. Then, after I had written two more Age of Sail historical romances, I got a little more ambitious and set up my own domain with a blog attached. That was Alex Beecroft’s blog #2.

That was all good. By the sheer accident of catching a wave of obsession at just the right time, I had established a brand for myself. I was a well known author in the genre of historical gay romance.

It’s such a shame that that wasn’t actually what I wanted to write.

Nevertheless, I ran with it until I couldn’t stomach writing another historical. So I wrote some contemporary romances, to give myself a break. And then I thought “Well, my audience is very forgiving. Maybe I’ll write some fantasy with romance and edge into the territory where I want to live in such a soft way that I’ll bring them with me.”

It didn’t work. My fans just asked me when the next historical was coming out. My blog started looking incoherent. The fact that I had to include romance at all began to irk me and it all came to a head about a year ago, with the collapse of one of my publishers. I needed a new start, and there was nothing to stop me from making one.

So I decided to become a cozy mystery writer.

Don’t ask me where this came from. I have no idea. I do enjoy reading a good cozy mystery of the old fashioned sort – the Miss Silvers, Miss Marples and Lord Peter Whimseys of this world. So I thought perhaps I would enjoy writing them – and at least they wouldn’t have to contain romance.

That’s blog #3, Robyn Beecroft. This is still ongoing, and I’m currently writing book 2 of my Dancing Detective series.

This year, however, I got back my rights to about ten novels from the last of my romance publishers. Now I was almost entirely self-published (except for three novels and two novellas.)

It felt very much like going back to square one. I had been a romance writer for ten years, and now that was over and I had emerged with a lot of experience and 20-odd novels to show for it, but with the rest of my life in front of me.

Time to finally start once more on the dream of a career in SF/F.

Hence, here I am with blog number #4; A new pen name; A back catalogue which I am finally going to separate into genres; about four SF/F novels which either contain no romance, or which I have edited to de-emphasize the romance; a lot of experience, and a new hope.

It is long past time to explode some Death Stars, dammit.

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