Author’s Roundtable: ‘Old-Fashioned Adventure’ with Camille LaGuire

15 Sep

This week’s guest is Camille LaGuire, whose novels include Have Gun, Will Play, The Adventure of Anna the Great, and The Wife of Freedom.

Adults Could Use Some Old-Fashioned Adventure Too

Once upon a time publishers would put out books for grown ups that were just as much fun as books for kids. Wild adventures, deep dramas, fast-paced and entertaining. These books were often unsophisticated, but they were also clever and written for smart and sophisticated people.

Many of those books are considered classics today, and you still see some of that boldly unsophisticated storytelling in the movies now and then, but lately those books have simply dropped out of the publishing industry. Sometimes the plot is there, but the style is bogged down with what I consider gratuitous sophistication.

I think the reason for this is pretty simple. In the intense competition among writers for the very few publishing slots at the big houses, a new style has evolved. It’s not enough any more for an author to really understand the characters and world, or have done research – they have to display that knowledge on the page.

This has given us a lot of great literature, even in the ranks of genre fiction, but it also has killed off a lot of great old-fashioned ripping adventure stories. When such stories make it to publication these days, they are bogged down with so much proof of the author’s skill and knowledge story structure and descriptions, that the story drowns in such details.

At least that is true in stories for grown ups.

Since everyone knows that children will not tolerate a story that bogs down too much, children’s fiction still mostly allows for unsophisticated, straight-forward fun. And given the popularity of some extremly dumb movies – action or comedy – it’s pretty clear that there is an audience for plain, straight-forward storytelling among adults.

In recent years, the publishing system has become too efficient. Editorial staff are flooded with manuscripts, and they look first for those signs of skill in authors. And in turn, the authors pile it on. This has created a vaccum where straight-forward storytelling used to be.

But the system is changing. With the rise of ebooks, the old inefficiencies related to printing and distributing and marketing paper books becomes less important. Small presses and even individual authors no longer need the big distributors to get their books to the public. The variety of books which are available to the public right now is exploding.

It is true that in this ebook explosion are some really bad books, but there are also interesting literary experiments, books aimed at small special interest groups… and pulp fiction.

I myself hope we are on the verge of a strong new wave of pulp fiction, swashbucklers, cloak and dagger stories, sports stories, and all the other kinds of old-fashioned adventure that we haven’t seen in a long long time.

I’m tired of being jealous of the kids.

Thanks to Camille for being this week’s guest. To learn more about Camille and her work, visit her website or Amazon page.

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