I wrote the first two books of The Stream in 2009 and published them in 2011, before I knew anything about marketing. I’ve been told what I’ve long known, that the titles are terrible and the marketing campaign wrong. At some point in the near future, after I’ve put the first draft of my current work-in-progress to bed, I will revisit and re-release the books.
I may even try to publish them through traditional channels, as I think the books are great fun for readers of fantasy fiction. They will certainly have new titles, and The Stream as the name of the series will disappear. I don’t know what I’ll call them, but I promise they will be more evocative of the richness of the dream-laden plot. I still hate made-up place names, so I promise they won’t be called “Houvencraft” or some such nonsense, but it will be better.
I wrote The Stream series for three reasons: they were fun to write, I love dragons, and I was sick of people doing the same old stories in the same old way.
There is still no genre for these books. They are part dragon quest and lore (although I have changed dragon lore for the books). They are part dream walkers. They are part spiritual fiction. Overall, perhaps Visionary Fiction is closest, but half of the stories take place in the real world. Maybe Urban Contemporary Visionary Fantasy (UCVF) should be my new genre. (There’s a touch of sci-fi and historical fiction too, but we’ll ignore that.
So, for those of us who write in all genres (sci-fi, fantasy, horror, suspense, crime, literary, historical), here’s to hoping that not fitting in boxes will one day be a good thing. In the meantime, here’s a piece from Discovery, wherein Charlie Patterson encounters his very first dragon:
As he watched, a small translucent cloud passed overhead, moving rapidly. It was thin enough that he could barely make out its movement against the sky. “There must be a storm coming for that cloud to be blowing like that,” he said, hoping he could find shelter in the barren terrain ahead. As he watched, the cloud suddenly reversed course then began a dizzying descent toward the hillside.
“What the?” Charlie murmured, sitting upright as he watched. “What kind of cloud does a nosedive?”
Some two hundred feet above the ground, a deafening screech sounded, as if a hundred eagles had all screamed at once. Charlie could see long limbs and taloned feet emerge from a huge body that was just now becoming visible as it neared the ground. At once, the air was filled with a chemical smell, a biting ammoniac odor that was mixed with the cloying perfume of rotting flowers.
Charlie gagged and held his sleeve to his mouth, instinctively crouching on hands and knees. Whatever was diving from the sky, it was no cloud. “Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod,” he found himself muttering, at first wondering who was stupid enough to be talking with that thing out there. Once he realized it was himself, he clamped his sleeved arm tighter to his mouth, as protection against both the smell and his habitual muttering.
The air brightened in a brilliant horizontal flash, as if lightning had emerged from fifty feet above him and decided to travel in a line parallel to the ground. Charlie jumped at the light, falling backward and dropping his sword into the soft ground. From the sky came a broad, white stream of supercooled air from just below a huge pair of crystalline eyes that varied in the reflected light from pale yellow to a pinkish brown. It was a dragon, and it was on a hunt.
Charlie lay flat against the earth, happy that his clothing provided adequate camouflage. His eyes followed the stream of air to the top of a ridge half a mile away, where a small family of goats had scampered up the side of a nearby mountain. He could hear their panicked bleating, mixed with the sound of rushing air and the dragon’s screeches, now echoing from both sides of the valley. The supercooled air hit the animals in a blast. All of the goats stopped, frozen rigid where they stood. The dragon swooped in, now in full display, grabbed two goats in each of its forelimbs, and swooped back up toward the sky, barely slowing. Within fifteen seconds, it was gone, and the world had returned to silence.
Charlie exhaled, panting, only now realizing that he had forgotten to breathe during the attack. He looked at his sword, which was sticking hilt first into the muddy soil. Charlie grabbed the handle and pulled the sword out with a loud slurp. “I’m going to need a bigger sword,” Charlie said, frowning at his now far-less-impressive sword.