Welcome to the many islands of Leah Cutter!
Like many writers, I write all over the map.
I primarily write fantasy, but I write many different flavors of fantasy. I’m best known for my historic fantasy (“Paper Mage”, the first book I sold to a New York publisher).
And I write mysteries—I’ve had more than one short story published in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine. I also write science fiction stories. And post-apocalyptic fairy tales. And…
You get the point.
The problem with writing so many differently flavors of fantasy under a single name is that it makes it difficult for readers to find what they like. In the old days, my publisher would make me have a different pen name for every genre. But that was yesterday. As I am now indie publishing all of these titles, I am responsible for figuring out the marketing.
It’s fairly easy to distinguish the science fiction from the fantasy.
But how do I categorize the different types of fantasy? Particularly when so much of what I write falls under the category of “contemporary fantasy” and yet it’s all so different?
For example, I write what I call “immersive fiction.” (The Popcorn Thief, The Soul Thief) It isn’t slow paced–almost everything I write is page-turning fiction. However, in these books, I draw the readers very deep into the world, immerse them in the everydayness of the place.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, I write really high-energy fiction, where, “OMG the world is going to end in seventeen minutes!” (Poisoned Pearls and the other urban fantasy novels.)
A reader who thoroughly enjoys the immersive fiction may or may not enjoy the high-energy, high-stakes fiction, and vice versa. I have readers who tell me that my immersive fiction books are their favorites and they don’t like the other things I write. I’ve had readers absolutely love the world-about-to-end fiction, who found the immersive fiction boring.
So how do I guide readers? How do I help them find the types of books that they like to read?
Since I write all over the map, I came up with the concept of actually creating a map. (See above.) For me, the axis of the map turned out to be:
—Up and down (Y), I put the far future at the top and the past at the bottom.
—Across the bottom (X), I grade books from low energy to high energy.
Once I figured out my axis, I placed all my titles on it, figuring out where each one landed.
This helped me to see that I have five separate islands of fiction.
The largest island is what I’d call contemporary fantasy. (A few years ago, it might have been called urban fantasy, but the characteristics of that genre have changed.) The Shadow Wars trilogy fits there, along with the Seattle Trolls trilogy, and the Clockwork Fairy trilogy. All the Huli Transport stories belong there as well.
True urban fantasy novels are the Cassie stories, along with Siren’s Call (and I’ll get to the follow up novels of that series eventually).
Historic fantasy is the second largest island. That’s where I first started writing, and I keep returning to it. A small bit of land just off the coast of there is the epic fantasy, which I keep adding to as well.
If you’d like a taste of all the islands, feel free to try The Island Sampler. It’s available for $0.99 at most retailers.
Or, if you sign up for my newsletter, you can get a copy for free!