In anticipation of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I’ve been brainstorming ideas for my next project. I already have a few nuggets in my head, but I wanted to be open to new ideas. So I decided to write down a list of my personal preferences as a reader (or ‘my cup of tea,’ as my mom used to say). The list includes both young adult and adult fiction.
My likes include:
- Historical fiction that takes place in Tudor England. Even though I’ve read a lot of books set in this era, I just can’t get enough.
- Fantasies set in worlds that mirror a different culture. My favorite example is Illusion, by Paula Volsky, published in 1992, which can basically be summed up as ‘the French Revolution with magic.’ One of my favorites!
- Books with a romance that breaks your heart, like The Time Traveler’s Wife.
- Really cool and interesting narrative non-fiction, like Fooling Houdini by Alex Stone, which opened my eyes to the modern-day world of magic and magicians.
- Books set in India
- Young adult dystopian fiction (Hunger Games, Divergent, Enclave, Eve, Wither, the list goes on and on…)
- Books with amazingly creative fantasy/steampunk worlds, like N.K. Jemisin’s The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, Rachel Hartman’s Seraphina, or Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines.
- Fairy tale and mythology retellings (no surprise there!)
My dislikes include:
- Regency-set romances
- Page-turning thrillers where the ‘big reveal’ is a huge let-down.
- Literary fiction that ends tragically or in an ambigious way (my book club reads a lot of these!).
I’m also not a big fan of werewolf or vampire books, although I did read all the Twilight series (with a last name like Cullen, I felt like I had to read them!)
After I made my list, I realized how quirky and subjective it was. Then it hit me that agents must feel the same way. Even though they’re aware of the market, their choices probably reflect their personal tastes as well. For me, my dislike of Regency isn’t based on a particular author or book I’ve read, it’s just not my thing. Sometimes, too, I’ll read a book and just love it, even though it doesn’t fall into one of my ‘preferred’ categories.
With this in mind, I have to remember that sometimes, when I get a rejection, it might not be a reflection of me, as a writer, but my book might not be someone’s cup of tea. And that’s okay.