Saturday, March 1, 2014

I'm Adding the Genre of Techno-thriller...and What that Means for Readers

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From now on, I'm going to be writing more techno-thrillers.

Before I talk about that, though, I'm guessing a lot of you are probably here because you're avid readers of young adult fiction. YA has a certain power that's undeniable—teens grappling with all manner of problems from relationships, paranormal creatures, crazy hormones, evil genetic engineering, superpowers, high school cliques, all while trying figure out what the hell they're going to be when they grow up. It's a crazy fun mix, and my first four books are all well within the YA genre. The characters are all 15 to 18 years old, in high school, and there's romance in each one. But I'm noticing a funny thing has been happening lately.

My books are getting more serious, they're more researched, and they're more scientific. My characters are getting older too—they need to be in order to realistically be capable of meeting the book's challenge. There are still teen characters, but now I'm telling stories from more perspectives. My first two books were told mainly from a single perspective. Triton was told from five perspectives. While God's Loophole centers on Gabe and Raedyn, there's probably eight or ten perspectives throughout, many of them scientists, doctors, and FBI agents. In other words, adults.

I realized my genre has been steadily drifting from YA to something else. I tend to write what I would most want to read, and right now, here's my idea of an ideal book.

  • It's a thriller, not science fiction. That means the book starts present day, probably in our world, not in the future. There's a building mystery that gets unveiled throughout the story, putting the main characters' lives in jeopardy. By the end, the stakes are huge. Probably the whole world hangs in the balance. It has a grand scope and is told from multiple perspectives, often from experts who know their field and can tackle the problem.
  • Technology plays a major role, not magic. I tend to suspend my disbelief a little better when there are rules that govern a story world, especially if those rules are the same rules we live by. It makes me feel like the story could be happening to me, and it's scarier.
  • It's mindbending. I like ideas that really make me think, especially situations that are set up where there's some twist to reality or some kind of puzzle. I want to have to stop reading and just stare into space trying to wrap my mind around what's going on...and I never want to be completely sure.
  • It has strong characters and some romance. I want it to be plot focused, but the characters need to hold their own. I want lots of witty, snappy dialogue and some kind of love interest, since that raises the stakes.
When I put together this description of my perfect book, I realized I wasn't describing a young adult novel anymore, I was describing a techno-thriller. Not only do I prefer reading them, but I prefer writing them. I realized I need to let my readers know or risk alienating them. Many of my fans are probably fans of YA, and some of my upcoming stuff might be more techy, more science-fictiony, or more thrillery than you're expecting, and I wanted to give you the heads up.

So what does this mean to readers? 

Here's what. If you like the above description of my perfect book, then you're going to love what's coming. If, however, you're really interested in high school teen drama and want to see a junior or senior in high school grappling with romance, trying to fit in, and engaging in paranormal romances, you probably won't like what I write from now on. My books will likely continue to straddle YA and thriller genres, but I might not deliver what you want. You're going to see less books like Entanglement (my first book) and more books like God's Loophole (#4) and Broken Symmetry (#2), with quarantine zones, weird quantum mechanics, and mind-boggling plot twists. If you think those books have too much science in them, then you might not want to pick up my future books.

I'm not doing this to fuck with you guys (Oh yeah, and there's going to be cursing in ALL my books, so if you have a sensitive ear, look elsewhere for your entertainment). I'm doing this because I'm going to write the books I love to write. I realized pretty early on I can't please everybody. In fact, I can't even guarantee that I'm going to please my fans. I can never know if readers are going to like one of my books.

But what I can know is that I like my books, and that I love writing them, and because I love writing them I'm going to pour every ounce of my soul that I can muster into each and every one of them. The truth is, I write better books when I'm write what I love. Some people aren't going to like them, but hopefully those who do will find them extraordinary.

My secret wish is that all of you are secretly rejoicing and saying, "YES, I want to read more mindbending technothrillers from Dan Rix!" But I understand if some readers are disappointed and wish to part ways.

For those who stick around, though, lets get on with it!

Time travel is coming next:)

All the best,

P.S. If techno-thrillers just might be your thing, be sure to sign up for my newsletter below for updates on all my new releases. I announce all my books a month early and offer sneak previews and free pre-release copies only to subscribers, so make sure you're on the list:

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  1. Hi Dan,
    Found your post by googling 'does anybody read techno thrillers any more', or words to that effect. I'm in the process of writing my first novel... you guessed it... a techno-thriller. And, like yourself, I'm writing the kind of book I like to read. However, here's the thing, unlike your good self I'm the wrong side of the half century, and was wondering if the techno-thriller is simply a genre that has gone out of fashion. So it is interesting to find a young author moving into the area of writing, particularly one who has written for the YA audience for some time.
    I would be very interested to hear more of your thoughts on why your heading that way.
    All the best

  2. Hey Gerry,
    Good comment! Nailing down genres has always been a struggle for me, since I like to put in elements from several different genres (techno-thriller, science fiction, and YA, as you pointed out) I think this would have been a tough sell a few years ago in traditional publishing (as those books had to fit neatly in the brick and mortar categories) but with indie publishing, I think all the genres are blending--and I think genres that may have gone out of fashion are now finding new pockets of very devoted readers. I grew up as a huge fan of Michael Crichton, and science and technology has always fascinated me and I think it fascinates a lot of people.

    I would have said dystopian had gone out of fashion, but then the Hunger Games and Divergent happened. So these things are ever changing. I'd say the best bet is write first and foremost what you love to write and what you would love to read, because at the end of the day, those will be your strongest stories.

    Another thing to consider is that if a genre is less popular, there will be fewer authors competing, which means it might be easier to gain traction. Who knows, right? Write what you love and your fans will love you for it:)

    I'm excited to meet a fellow techno-thriller author!