Wednesday, January 29, 2014

In which I learned something new: Portal Fantasy

So, are we having a "genre" week? Let's have a genre week.

Something I enjoy reading on Twitter is #tenqueries, wherein literary agents go through their inboxes and whip through (do I need to say it?) ten queries. The format tends to go

Genre: what I think of the query. Pass/request #tenqueries

So what did I learn? Well, I googled "Ten Queries" to broaden my horizons a bit and see what people had blogged or articled or what have you on the topic, and I found this blog: The Blabbermouth Blog. It's a literary agent, Linda P. Epstein, who at one point blogged a "Ten Queries" (or more specifically "Ten Rejections") and two of the rejections were "portal fantasies", of which she is not a fan. I went "Uh?" and Googled that.

A "portal fantasy", if I'm getting it, is when a person starts in our "real world" and then goes to a magical fantasy one. I'd never ever heard the term before, though I wish I had, or I'd've been able to include it in the library's subgenre display this month. 

A "portal fantasy", to give examples rather than a definition, is The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Or Alice in Wonderland. Or Lev Grossman's The Magicians. Or Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere. Or, apparently, my The Last Song (which I was categorizing as "Urban Fantasy", despite my "magical realism" meanderings). Scratch that agent, then, but it's good to know these things before sending a mismatched query to an agent and wasting time on both ends. Other things she does not want are werewolves and mermaids [why do so many agents have mad ons against mermaids? {According to Suzy Townsend, mermaids "creep [her] out"} Are there really that many mermaid books and I just never knew? I don't know if I can even think of one, other than, say, Hans Christian Anderson's "The Little Mermaid" and thus the Disneyfications that followed]), so again, it's good that I read further than "well, she accepts "some" fantasy, so Learn to Howl counts, right?"

Well, subbing a werewolf novel/series to an agent who doesn't want that is some kind of fantasy, anyway...






6 comments:

  1. Isn't that crazy/great how readers (including readers who happen to work in publishing) have these little particularities? I think it's awesome because it proves that there is an audience for every work. And I heart the internet for helping to make it easier to navigate when you're looking for someone to love what you love and bring it to life.

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    1. I love the Internet for that too! I can't even begin to express how ignorant I would be were it not for the Internet, on any number of topics, not least of which would be publishing.

      It is interesting, just how much interests vary, and that's an important detail to keep in mind. I'm reminded, time and time again, that AGENTS are also READERS, and will select and reject pieces based on this. It doesn't matter of it's salable, if they're not totally in love with it, it's not for them. And I really respect and appreciate that.

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  2. Apparently I've written one of those, too. Either way, at least she put the information out there to help out with aspiring writers' research for submissions!

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    1. Yes, and I'm glad! AS I've said (or meant to say, anyway?), it saves everybody's time when you know what will be a definitive "No" from an agent.

      Funny, isn't it, to find a term people apparently use that you'd never encountered? I feel like it was "duh" moment, but a genuine one.

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  3. So I guess the Outlander series is a historical portal fantasy. How's that for specialized.

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    1. I guess Gabaldon wanted to cover as many bases as possible!

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