The Risks of Writing the Bizarre

DaePortals3HoundandtheChameleonLooking at the cover for the Chameleon and the Hound, there’s no indication there is a bizarre book lurking within the pages. The entire Dae Portals series is a string of the impossible and crazy, and I’m taking a large risk writing these books.

Invisible lines exist in our world separating the acceptable bizarre and the just plain crazy.

My books fall into the second category. Instead of the shifting staircases of Hogwarts, which are acceptably and delightfully bizarre, strange, and new, the Dawn of Dae opens with a woman living in a dystopian world, who discovers her refrigerator is far more than it looks like on the outside.

The man stepping out of it is only her first taste of the bizarre–the crazy kind of bizarre. Once the sentient, talking macaroni and cheese is added, the Dae Portals series crosses that line from the acceptably bizarre to the just plain crazy.

I’ve been watching the reviews of the series since I released the first book. Honestly, writing something on the wrong side of the acceptably bizarre line has been… frightening. My books aren’t mainstream, nor will they ever be. I’m okay with that.

As a writer, embracing the fact I am writing the bizarre–the unfashionably bizarre–is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I want to tell a hard-hitting story, but I want to have fun doing it. I want to embrace everything I love about the strange, the witty, and the unusual, and I want to do it without worrying about the constraints of normality.

Unfortunately, that means accepting the risk that go along with writing something outside of the box.

Some people are going to love a character with sentience but can only say one or two words. Others are going to be very, very annoyed by that same character. Oh, boy, are they ever going to be annoyed by that character.

For whatever reason, Colby, the macaroni and cheese character who starts out its life able to say, “Mommy!” is the character that make people either love or hate this series. There’s very little middle ground among readers I’ve noticed. I’ve somehow managed to polarize the bizarre.

I guess that goes with the territory.

I’m glad I took the risks associated with writing the bizarre. I’ve begun work on the Chameleon and the Hound, but the fear of the fact I’m writing a bizarre series with a probably limited audience (thanks to my desire to be unfashionably strange rather than acceptably so) limits me as much as it spurs me to keep writing, even if my success is limited by the fact I’ve dared to be different–a little too different.

I’ve begun writing the Chameleon and the Hound, and it begins a little like this:

I should have known I’d eventually pay the price for rescuing Rob on my own.

The instant I stepped foot into the police station to return to work, Sergeant Gildroy loomed over me, claimed my bag, and sent me to detention until I had a better understanding of the chain of command and authority.

He smiled as though I were a toy for his amusement, offering a cheerful wave while another officer, a woman with black hair and sky blue eyes a match for Rob’s, led me into the bowels of the police station.

Instead of a prison of concrete and steel, my holding cell was an apartment nice enough to appease the sensibilities of most elite, Rob included. I wasn’t given long to inspect the place; a second police officer brought a change of clothes for me. I didn’t realize it was a police uniform until I changed and gaped at my reflection in the mirror.

While I lacked the badge and other decorations marking a true officer, the sight of me wearing the rich blue of the police sent shivers down my spine. I wasn’t given long to wonder. The black-haired woman herded me to the door, thrusted a pair of black shoes at me, and clucked her tongue while waiting for me to put them on.

“We have a busy schedule, Miss Daegberht. Do hurry.” The fires of hell crackled in her voice, and my entire body tensed. The woman’s eyes narrowed at my reaction, and one of her thin, perfect eyebrows arched.

Maybe one day I wouldn’t flinch in the presence of fire breathers. Hell would likely freeze over first, if the place actually existed. I’d have to ask Rob about it one day, assuming I ever managed to escape from the consequences of my idiocy.

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