I’ve just had a book self-published. It’s called This Little Light of Mine and it’s about a young clairvoyant girl called Stella, and her Faery, Astrid. At its simplest, it’s a story about Mother Earth, and treading carefully on this planet that supports us. At its heart, it’s a story about embracing the light we all have deep inside us, illuminating our souls.
Something I’m learning about the publishing world is that, as an author, you are required to categorise your work based on a set of generic rules, and the rules change every which way you turn. Often.
For example, if your word count falls between (insert considerable range here), then it’s a children’s fiction; any more, and it’s teenage fiction. If your work is pitched at ages (insert smallish number of years lived here) then it’s teen fiction, and if you’ve pitched it any older, it’s adult fiction. Also, teen fiction is sometimes referred to as young adult fiction, and sometimes, pre-teen is considered young adult. The mind boggles. All labels, genres, categories, and target audience forecasts are arbitrary and fraught with the potential to pigeon-hole an author in an area they never thought they belonged to.
Sure, it’s useful to have a vague idea of where something loosely fits in the world, but there’s also something spontaneous and liberating about accepting a work based on nothing but face value (without the rules). Take me, for example – I didn’t think I was a reader of crime fiction, and then I read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and my limitations changed.
Who knows what magic we might stumble across if we ignore the labels?
I’ve been telling everyone that This Little Light of Mine is a young adult book, however I’ve recently seen it described as children’s fiction. My spiritual mentor (and one of my editors), Wendy, is a full-grown adult and she weeps every time she reads it (I have it on good authority it’s not pain related). My Auntie Pat was one of the first people to ever read an early draft, and she told me she couldn’t put it down. When I worked as a teacher, I read a few chapters to a class of grade five and six students, and they seemed rather interested.
The truth is, I don’t really mind where This Little Light of Mine fits. In terms of labels, genres, and categories, I hope it doesn’t clearly fit anywhere. Because that was never the point of writing it. I wanted to write a book about some of my real-life experiences; I wanted to write a book that would help people embrace their spirituality; and I wanted to write a book for Mother Earth. Also, I made a fairly heavy-duty deal with a sassy Faery, and once the money was on the table I couldn’t take it back.
So, whether you’re a child, a pre-teen, a teenager, an adult, a senior, a whatever, my hope for This Little Light of Mine is that it awakens your inner child, stirs your soul, and helps you find your own Faery*.
*DISCLAIMER: Just don’t make any deals you can’t come good on.
Thank you to Balboa Press who designed and own the cover image.