Tuesday, July 8, 2008

If sneezing were an Olympic event --

The Headless Horseman did appear to call at this address last night, but he missed me (rats: Day III of head cold well underway). He did, however, score a pigeon. Or at least, there was a headless pigeon outside the backdoor this morning ... I have a suspicion the cat might have had something to do with it, mind you.

Very good news from the webmaster's department at DreamCraft: along with the visible work that was done to build the new Keegan OnLine site, massive amounts of invisible work were done. None will ever show, because it's all inside tags buried in key places on the page, and the whole thing is about search engine compliance. And it worked. Traffic is increasing quite rapidly, and we're pleasantly surprised by the number of 'generic searches' we're winning.

(Generic searches are where someone goes to Google or Yahoo and queries on something like 'gay books,' or 'gay thrillers.' We're right there in the middle of the first page, and grinning. The other side of the coin is where someone goes to Google and types in 'Mel Keegan' ... and obviously we've been ranked top of the first page for a long time. But it's great when new readers find you: in bookstore terms, it's like having someone browsing along a shelf and notice your novel, and -- not knowing you from a hole in the ground -- pick it up.)

Work goes slowly. The world seems to be in slo-mo, at least from my perspective, right now. The urgent need to sneeze every 17.4 seconds is coloring my whole concept of Reality. I'm supposed to be editing AQUAMARINE, and what am I doing? Looking at the middle-distance with glazed eyes, wondering if the Headless Horseman would consider calling again tonight, and this time giving the pigeon community a break. Editing the novel is going to take more functional brain cells than I seem to possess right now, so I've put the job on hold and am reading someone else's book.

CHINA MOUNTAIN ZHANG is a damned good book, by anyone's standards. I bought it when it first came out (God, is it really that long?), liked it then and like it now. I'm not sure if there's a current edition in print; I suspect not, but you can probably get it via alibris.com or similar. If you haven't read it -- do. I could have wished there were a lot more novels along the lines of this one, but real gay science fition is in extremely short supply; and a lot of what's on the list, I wrote myself, so there's limited mileage in reading them!

I wrote a feature for the new website on this topic ...

MK talks about Gay Science Fiction

...and rather than rabbit on at length here (due to the aforementioned regrettable paucity of functional cerebral tissue), I'll just zap you the link. I do know that a fair bit of gay SF is coming out in ebook form, and I need to have a look at what's on offer, and from where.

Maybe I can make myself useful, sort some of the wheat from the chaff, review what's hot (and make honorable mention of what's not, but was still a lot of fun if you were looking for pulp, or kitsch, whatever). Stay tuned. I have a suspicion that a lot of what's out there masquerading as 'gay SF' will turn out to be erotica ... not that SF can't be erotic; some of the best is. But the reader has to reach some GPS-point: is it erotic fiction with an SF element? Is it good SF with sexy bits? Is it good gay fic, with an SF twist and sexy bits? And what combination of the above does the individual reader want?

Speaking purely for myself, if I want erotica, I don't want to have to wade through rivers of prose and science backgrounding to get to it. What we used to call 'the essential f**k story' had just enough background and characterization to make it work (be it a western, or a historical, SF, whatever), and then got on and delivered the goods, because as a writer of this type of material, you KNEW what your readers were paying their buck for. Then again, if it happens that I want science fiction, then I'll certainly enjoy the sexy bits, but I don't want to have to wade through 44pp of erotica to get to the plot, because today I'm in the mood for PLOT+credible science, with a modicum of snogging (a snoggicum?) on the side.

Does that make sense to anybody else, or is it just me? (The other side to this issue is, also, how hot are the sexy bits going to be? I've been trying in recent years to tone down the spice from five red chili icons, back to three. The theory was/is that mainstream fiction is becoming more and more tolerant of gay material, gay characters, issues, situations, and a day is rapidly approaching when a series like HELLGATE might easily merge in. I'd love to see it happen.)

I realize this blog is still very new, but I wonder if it's too early to have a poll, and ask readers to vote on what they want (more spice; less spice; leave it as it is; couldn't care less) in a Keegan book. Speaking as a writer with many more stories still to tell, it would help muchly to know what readers really want. Part of the process of writing is to consistently listen to readers, (and occasionally to critics!) and try to meet everyone halfway.

On a parting note: it's bucketing down, albeit in patches. The rains came at last, and will be hanging around for a week or ten days. We had hail in the backyard yesterday ... and discovered we have a leaky window. Thank gods we got the roof fixed last month!

Ciao for now,
Sneez'an Keegan

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