As someone who loves horror, I sometimes lose touch with how people outside the genre view it. It’s no secret that something still nags me about Victim. I’ve done several blog posts on it:
Well, it’s getting reviews again. And I got two in a row that call Mica schizophrenic. Really? That’s time travel shenanigans. But you likely wouldn’t know that unless you read my [Balance of Souls] setting descript. The original intention was a separate character in the voidspace, a literal separate space Mica gets transported to via his own mind. I can see where they read schizophrenia, but some part of me panics about cancel culture and how much I detest the concept that authors must always be speaking directly to the reader. I’m not a preacher.
I remember that one early beta did express concern about Mica’s mental health, but she framed it in the context of anxiety. I actually tuned down and rewrote parts of the book because of that feedback. I don’t necessarily mind reviewers bringing up schizophrenia, but I worry about it being misconstrued. My grandmother was mentally ill (schizophrenia is a likely possibility, in all honesty, but we never figured it out). Aside from that, I have almost no knowledge of schizophrenia. And it certainly was not my intention.
In learning twitter, and in trying to promote my books more by maintaining a social media presence, I’m also learning how vicious it is. I was already aware of cancel culture and authors getting deplatformed, but we’re human just like everyone else. I cannot possibly read every possible angle something could be read from. And, even if I could, I’m not going to be able to please everyone. Thinking like that actively discourages me from writing since it expects an impossible level of perfection. But I’m getting off-topic.
It’s been pointed out to me in the past that I don’t stay well in genre. This is true, but I don’t see it as a bad thing. Victim isn’t easy to describe in a traditional sense. One of the new reviews calls it “partly a quest, partly a morality play, and partly a mystery.” He (“scifiguy”) did get that the journey they’re one isn’t just a literal train to the city. But the literal train journey is the easiest thing to put in a book summary.
The original feel of the time point (before I started expanding on it to create my [Balance of Souls] setting), was modeled somewhat on 1984. That just happens to be one of my favorite books, right up there with Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The setting moved away from it, but a lot of that feel remains. I have said before that I don’t think Victim can stand on its own as only a horror book. That’s still true, but I tend to go back and forth on it.
In fact, I’m still going back and forth on it. Roughly three years later.
The other review says that they only recommend it for readers who enjoy horror. It’s classed in both science fiction (general) and horror on amazon. I would class it in just science fiction horror if I could, but that’s not a real option. Part of this issue might be that pubby (the system I’m trying to use to get more reviews) wouldn’t let me class it in two genres. I went back and forth a bit before putting it in sci-fi. That being said, I just reclassed it in horror on pubby. I think readers will handle it better there.
The cover is, in part, a warning: this book is dark. It’s the darkest book I’ve published so far. The original Into the Unknown (the unpublished version) was so terrifying that I rewrote it. It Began with a Dream, in my opinion, actually varies in how dark it is. I’ve gone back and forth on IBwaD’s genre as well, but it’s so gorey that it makes that decision much easier. You can’t class Carrie as anything but a horror, and it’s the same for IBwaD. But that means that IBwaD is practically classed in genre for me. Victim isn’t like that.
And, ultimately, I’m tired of feeling unsettled around Victim.
I’m updating the site to only class it as a sci-fi horror (not just an S-H). And I’ll be keeping it classed in horror on pubby. Going forward, I’m going to do my best to only call it a sci-fi horror. Not just a darker sci-fi. I may even lean more into it being a horror. But I want it to finally feel settled.
Maybe the monster in Mica’s void will haunt some readers’ nightmares again. Mwahahaha! 🙂
(Here’s a positive thing about the pen name change: Amazon’s updated their system. I’m no longer as limited by the traditional BISAC codes, even though they’re technically still used. I can now put it in both sci-fi (general) and horror. When I first published Victim through createspace, I could only class it in one genre. Now I get two.)
Here’s the three reviews on Victim so far post pen name change: