Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Again with the Klingons . . .

One of the more entertaining aspects of reading the free ebooks that come my way way thanks to my wife’s regular perusal of Pixels of Ink is that I get to read published authors whose writing, in many ways, is worse than my own.

Take, for example, the story of The Childe, by mother-son writing team C.A. Kunz. They try really hard in this book to play into the supernatural market as geared towards the younger set. Maybe they succeed, if their 5-star Amazon ratings are to be believed. But there is much in the world of young adult literature out there that is much better crafted than what they’re churning out.

No Klingons in this book, set in Astoria, Oregon, where in my mind the Goonies are the only kids good enough to have a book (or movie) about them. But there are apparently vampires. And werewolves. And witches. And one highly-strung high schooler who has to visit the potty on a put-near constant basis. She’s a minor character, friend of Cat Colvin, the book’s central cardboard cutout, but even Cat with the typical red hair and the typical color-mismatched eyes and penchant for finding every male who isn’t in the book as comic relief, as her father, as the foil, or as the boring, menacing school teacher is dreamy, a god, a massive hunk o’ hotness and whatever other adjectives or adverbs the authors can use gets upstaged by her friend’s overactive bladder. I almost expected a potty-related heroic end to this tale, but alas, in that realm as well the authors C.A. Kunz disappoint.

I have to agree with Nathan Bransford when he says ideas aren’t sacred. “Absolutely try to be yourself and put your own unique spin on whatever ide you have,” he says, “but don’t go for broke trying to think of something completely different than anything that has been done before. What’s most important is the reality of your execution.”

So the idea of vampires battling werewolves or witches or whatever (the authors are a bit hazy with the detail, hoping you’ll continue reading in the series of books they’ve written; I won’t be) is hackneyed, but, according to Bransford, a former literary agent and current author, the idea is to focus on the reality of your execution.

There’s no execution in The Childe. It’s all a derivative mish-mash of things I’ve read (like the Harry Potter series) and things I have not (the ever-present Twilight). When Cat’s at school, visiting the mysterious village of witches with favorite teacher Amaya or battling with the ugg-iest teacher Mr. Crawley, she’s at Hogwarts. A really boring Hogwarts where characters that all sound alike are either menacing or friendly or – if they were like me in high school – completely invisible. Cat’s a champ on the swim team, fights with the popular kids, gets involved in boring high-school hijinx and is otherwise one of the background Harry Potter characters because you don’t really care what happens to her, rather you sit waiting for another bladder attack. And when Cat is longing for Dr. Bane or Ryan Beckford, her dreamy tutor in Algebra who also happens to be buddies with the enemy, she’s all Twilighty as Cat ponders and ponders their dreaminess until they – ooh kiss – leaving the average reader actually hoping for the next bladder emergency.

So, the goal here is not to trash C.A. Kunz, but to look at my own writing and make sure fewer people – I won’t say no one, because, hey, that won’t happen – trash it for the same reasons. With NaNoWriMo 2012 starting tomorrow, this is going to be in the forefront of my mind as I babble.

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