Thursday, September 27, 2007

My Personal Tastes

After reading my recent post on whether the publishing business is personal, I was asked to tell a little about my own personal tastes, likes, and dislikes. Primarily, though, I was asked whether or not there are subject matters I won’t represent and what I would like to get my hands on.

The last question is the easiest to answer. I would love to get my hands on some really great romantic suspense or thriller. I don’t have much on my list now and it’s the one thing I’ve always looked for, but also one of the toughest to find. I get a lot, but not much of it is really new or different, or suspenseful enough. I think good romantic suspense needs to read like a mystery. It needs to have a lot of red herrings and a complex plot. Without that it’s just not enough.

The really tough question is what don’t I like (I think you have a good idea by now of what I like) or what subject matters I don’t represent. I honestly don’t think there’s a really easy answer to that. At this moment I can’t think of anything I will reject immediately because of the subject matter. I know some agents won’t handle books with child abduction and others have a fear of small spaces and can’t read anything in which a character might be trapped in a coffin-like area. I don’t have such issues. In fact, both of those work quite well for me because they bring the fear factor up that much more. I have a very, very difficult time reading about child abuse (as I suspect most of us do), but I think if the subject matter is handled well, and I don’t actually have to witness the abuse, I won’t object to it. Rape also makes me cringe, but again, if handled well, and primarily off-stage, I won’t object. And of course victims of any of these crimes are different than witnessing the crime itself.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that there isn’t a subject matter I immediately reject. I’m open to reading anything as long as it’s done tastefully, it’s done well, and it’s done within the context of the story.

Now, there are some things that I don’t like when it comes to style and types of voices I don’t like reading, but I’m not sure I can tell you through a blog what those are. I can say that typically I do not like it when the character introduces herself to the reader. “My name is . . .” Of course, again, if done in the right way this could easily work. More often than not, though, I think it’s a cop-out on the writer’s part.

I really try not to say that there are subject matters I refuse to look at because the minute it’s out of my mouth an amazing book on just that subject will cross my desk. I think that almost any subject matter can be done if done well, and that’s really the key. Often when agents say that they won’t read a certain subject it’s because they’ve seen few things on that subject that have been done really well.

But what about you? Readers have personal tastes too and I imagine there’s a subject matter or two out there that you’re reluctant to pick up.