Saturday, November 24, 2012

What is my best novel?

The question that tops this post is one I face from time to time, though never from writers. Writers understand, it would be nearly impossible to pick out one of our own "best" novels, though some might have a favorite or two. Sometimes the question is a bit different, asking what is my best writing, or what is my best story, but it amounts to about the same idea.

For me, there is no simple way to answer the question.

What is my best novel?

Well, that's hard to say. I think Ghosts of the Asylum is the best plotted of my fantasy novels, but as far as literary value goes, I tend to feel my best novel is probably my more mainstream novel, More Than Kin, which is also my most personal novel, though not autobiographical by any means.

100 Years of Blood is likely my most difficult novel for readers to take, to understand, and it is also the most literary novel I've penned, as well as one of the most boring from a plotting point of view. One of thing's I find somewhat amusing about 100 Years of Blood is that it is, as I've called it, a novel of questions, not of answers, which was intentional on my part because I wanted to write something that made the reader think for themselves instead of just another fast-paced, action-oriented novel that reads like a movie script and spoon feeds everything to the reader. There are enough such novels on the market, in my opinion, and though I'll admit some of them are quite good and entertaining, it is possible to do more in the literary field. As expected, 100 Years of Blood is my least selling novel. I also find some small amusement in that readers who have approached me about this novel always tell me they have figured out what the "secret" is, that that secret is pretty easy to discover. Really? If I made the "secret" all that obvious, it likely isn't the real "secret," wouldn't one think? But it's a novel of questions, and I'm one who prefers to let a piece of literary work (or "art," if I can be so bold as to use the word for my own work) speak for itself and to allow the readers to take away their own conclusions.

For a long while, I felt my short story "Beneath a Persian Sun" was the finest thing I had written, but over the last year or so I've come to find many faults with the tale. I still think it's a good story, but it could stand to be rewritten. Though I'll never do that. From time to time I make minor corrections in all of my works, but I never go back and do a major rewriting once something has been published.

Of late, I've been feeling pretty good about a short story of mine that has yet to be published, titled "Daedalus Reborn." It should be available sometime next year in an anthology, but I won't say anything further about it other than the editor was quite pleased with my little tale.

It's funny for a writer to look back on works he or she penned years in the past. I cringe when I look into my earliest novels, yet those are the ones that sell the best for me. On the other hand, for a while I was somewhat disappointed with my fantasy novel Demon Chains, mainly because I remember feeling burned out from reading and writing so much epic fantasy at the time (I went straight from writing Ghosts of the Asylum into writing Demon Chains, something I normally do not do for fear of becoming burned out on a genre). But as I've looked back, I find Demon Chains isn't so bad of a novel, though I don't think it's my best. Sales for Demon Chains are decent, and usually better than Ghosts of the Asylum.

I've heard other writers say they cannot judge their own works fairly, and I've come to the conclusion there's some truth to this. Though I tend to think of Ghosts of the Asylum as my strongest fantasy novel, it is also the least selling of all my fantasy novels. So, I can't judge.

Which of my novels is my best?

I couldn't tell you.

I can't judge. I don't always love all my children, but I don't hate any of them through and through.


Charles Gramlich said...

I have my opinions on my own work as well. The wide differences in genres make it hard to make some decisions. like, my best horror story versus my best fantasy tale. Hard to compare.

Ty Johnston said...

Charles, that's a problem I run into as well, trying to make comparisons between the various genres I write. I don't have as much difficulty comparing horror to fantasy, but that's because I work within the two as if they are the same genre (speculative), though I can't approach science fiction in the same manner.