Kameron Hurley, Author of God's War, on "Fortune and Glory"
Kameron Hurley's first novel God's War is out and garnering great praise, with Publishers Weekly writing in part, "On a planet settled by Muslims and ravaged by constant war and pollution, Nyx, a former government-sponsored assassin...gets by as a bounty hunter. Her assistant is the foreign magician Rhys, who can control the ubiquitous insects that drive the planet's technology. Hurley's world-building is phenomenal [and].... (she) smoothly handles tricky themes such as race, class, religion, and gender without sacrificing action."
Yes, that's right: It's bugpunk! This is gritty, edgy, and thoroughly entertaining science fiction that comes with all the bells and whistles. For example, check out the amazing book trailers for the novel on Hurley's YouTube channel as well as her awesome website for the book, which includes a sample chapter. You can also sample her short fiction, which has been collected in year's best anthologies, in a collection created for the Kindle.
Hurley's been kind enough to write a series of short pieces for Omnivoracious on issues related to her novel, the first on re-imagining revolution and the second on female characters in urban fantasy. Here's the third.
by Kameron Hurley
I recently had somebody ask me, seriously, if I was going to quit my day job now that I had magically become a “writer.” My book has officially been out in bookstores for two weeks now. I was paid about the average amount a first time novelist makes, which is, you know, not exactly enough to retire on.
There’s a grave misconception about what it is to publish a book. The media is in love with newsworthy advances and book numbers, and what makes all of these $3.75M advances and 10-book deals newsworthy is that, well, they are uncommon. The uncommon makes for stellar news. Trouble is, report enough on the uncommon, and people start to see it as the norm.
One of the reasons I’ve written about my long slog to publication is that I want to give people realistic expectations about what exactly it is to be a “writer.” You know, the sort who writes books. I was really surprised when so many people reacted with astonishment when they saw my 15 years of story rejections (which was missing a good thirty or so electronic rejections). I always knew the odds, and the slog, but then, I’ve always read a lot of writing horror stories.
There are terribly few of us who actually make a living writing, and even then, the writing these folks do encompasses all sorts of things, from book writing to reviews, blog posts to chewing gum copy.
As a marketing and sales writer, I actually already make a living writing – just not fiction (creative non-fiction, I’d call it. Ha!). And because I’m one of those unfortunates who must have health insurance and can’t get it outside a group employer setting for various reasons, I will always have a day job.
This isn’t a bad thing. One of my worries about writing fiction is that readers would dictate that I’d always be writing the same series of books, over and over. You’d get your 10 book fantasy series, and then write another 10 book fantasy series in the same world, just so you could eat. There’s more freedom in having a day job in some ways.
At the same time, when you have a day job, every hour you find to squeeze out some fiction feels like a miracle. Several interviewers have marveled that I go to work every day and write for a couple of hours every night. But I’m not sure how else I’d get it done. Essentially, you have two jobs. You will always have two jobs. And there are far tougher ways to make money. Like cleaning dog kennels or cleaning out popcorn kettles – both of which I’ve done.
Ultimately, for many of us, writing fiction is a secondary profession. Not a mystical calling. Not a lucrative trade. Just something terribly fun to do in the hours after work. When other folks are watching TV or drinking at a bar, I’m writing about women running around with swords in the desert and bug-powered vehicles and rogue mullahs who control swarms of locusts.
There are worse ways to spend an evening. More lucrative ones, too. But very few that are so much fun.