Monthly Archives: March 2013

On The Stupidity of Book Genres

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When asked what kind of music he enjoyed listening to, Louis Armstrong once famously said, “There’s only two ways to sum up music: either it’s good or it’s bad. If it’s good, you don’t mess about it; you just enjoy it.”

Not only does that philosophy apply to music, the same holds true for all mediums of art. Music. Books. Dance. Painting. Films. For all artforms, if it’s good, you just enjoy it. Don’t mess about it.

Once upon a time, books were either fiction or non-fiction. Pretty simple. You knew the book was either about installing plumbing, or it was a makebelieve story. Those were the only two categories of books. (Depending upon which shelf you categorized Messianic religious texts, determined a lot about your personality.)

These days, the categories have gotten so granular, it’s ridiculous. We don’t just have “fiction” anymore. Now we have Children’s, Fantasy, Horror, Mystery, Romance, Science Fiction, Short Fiction, Thriller, Westerns, Young Adult and it seems there are new genres and subgenres being promoted and marketed all the time.

Have people truly become so lazy?

That is what I attribute this trend to – laziness. People don’t want to explore anything new in their reading habits, so they lazily rely upon granular genres and subgenres to tell them what a story is about before they even pick it up. Sure, it’s science fiction, but is it cyberpunk or slipstream or space opera or dystopian or retro futurism or biopunk or time travel or pulp or blah, blah, blah? Who the fuck cares!? It’s a fucking book! Read it! You might like it!

For years now, society has lamented the fact that “people don’t read anymore” and, of course, this is far from the truth. Authors like J.K. Rowling couldn’t have become a billionaire if people weren’t reading books anymore. Plenty of people love to read. The problem is, folks have become so inundated with books, and so overwhelmed by the opportunities and potential of what to read, they are resorting to checking the genres first and the stories second. Shouldn’t the storytelling be the most important part?

I have seen even voracious readers being guilty of this discrimination and pickiness. “Can you recommend any good paranormal romance books with shapeshifting wizards in a forbidden love triangle?”

I’m not joking, man. People literally ask that kind of shit. Look around on some Internet forums, and you’ll find these bozos out there.

Are you fucking kidding me?

Do you truly want to be a reader, or an author, who only reads or writes certain genres of books? I mean, certainly, as an author, one can’t be expected to explore every single possible genre. Everyone will tend to gravitate toward certain thematic elements in their stories and those themes then translate into genres. Yes, fine. Fine. I certainly understand that. But, surely, any author worth his ink wants to write more than one type of book during his career. Right? Am I alone in this way of thinking? Stephen King writes more than horror. Ray Bradbury wrote more than science fiction. J.K. Rowling writes more than young adult books. Every author must branch out and try some new things. Doesn’t it get horribly boring to write the same style of work all the time? Shouldn’t all writers aspire to play in more than a single sandbox? Get out of your backyard and live a little bit? Go to the playground down the street?

Honestly, that is part of why I enjoy the idea of blogging. While I may have jumped on the blogging bandwagon far later than most, I derive pleasure from blogging because it’s a different style of writing. It’s different than my novels. It’s not like a journal. It’s a way to exercise the mind and the proverbial “writing muscles” in a new way.

After all, I see myself as a writer. Period. Not an author of fantasy or science fiction or horror or paranormal romance or literature or poetry and not even of fiction and non-fiction. I’m a writer. I write. That is the only label I’m willing to put upon what I create. I enjoy creative endeavors involving written language, so that is what makes me a writer. I don’t care to limit myself to a genre or a style or a type of writing. What kind of crap is that?

Wait. I take it back. I prefer “storyteller” far more than “writer”. The word “storyteller” conjures visions of wandering minstrels and mythic tales told by campfire light. The bardic imagery of “storyteller” is far more romantic than something so mundane as “writer”. I’m a “storyteller”, but I will never be “a storyteller of historical fantasy literature with cyberpunk underpinnings and sexy werewolves”. No thanks.

In all honesty, I do understand the need for genres in a marketing sense. I get it. I just don’t like it.

Maybe this is just one of many reasons I’ve never become an established author. Maybe I’m too stubborn and I just feel self-destructively compelled to rebel against every standard and caveat of the publishing industry. Maybe I’m too much of an asinine, idealistic, artistic bastard and not enough of a savvy businessman. “Uncompromising” applies to my demeanor far more than “diplomatic”.

All I’m saying is, enough with the microscopic categorizing into subgenres of subgenres of subgenres. Simply aspire to great writing. Then it won’t matter what genre the story happens to be in. Make it wonderful. Give it substance. Give it life. That’s all you need concern yourself with. Do that, and as good old Louis Armstrong would say, you don’t mess about it; you just enjoy it.

Book Release – “The Gothic Rainbow: Beginning Volume of the Vampire Noctuaries”

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“… if you’ve ever listened to The Cure in the dark, danced to The Dead Milkmen, lost a loved one, hung out with skaters, hated your parents or hated preppies, or if anyone’s ever called you a “freak,” I think you’ll find a little of yourself in this book. Its honest representation of this subculture – from the music to the fashion – is spun throughout the web of fantasy …”
– Cynthia Conlin
Implosion Magazine

“… I’m utterly mystified that this book worked as well as it did for me. It’s written for readers with a firm grasp of the Goth subculture (I don’t qualify); it doesn’t attempt to have a plot as such; and the vampires are hopelessly larger-than-life, with their expensive cars, outrageous acts of violence, and nonstop scorn for mortals. (In fact, the vampires consider themselves so godlike that pronouns referring to them are capitalized, a typographical idiosyncrasy that I found rather disconcerting.) Perhaps the book’s appeal lies in the sheer honesty of the narrative. … Self-serving but sincere, THE GOTHIC RAINBOW is definitely worth checking out … I know that’s a strange kind of thumbs-up, but THE GOTHIC RAINBOW is a strange kind of book. It’s certainly not for everyone. … It is a book of dreams and fantasies, power and pain, and bittersweet Goth-flavored wish fulfillment …”
– Catherine B. Krusberg
Sphere Fantasy Online

“… One aspect of the writing that I appreciated is that the author uses different styles of writing throughout this novel. Muss-Barnes excels in his literary descriptions of buildings, character dress, and dreams. … the choice of words and inflection of mood hit dead on at what I anticipated I would find when I first picked up the book …”
– Dan O.

“… Eric effectively blends elements from different genres and literary styles in a duet between mortals and Fey. Highly unique, believable characters, and a musical playlist to boot! I found the book compelling and charming (in a twisted way), and would gladly read the book again …”
– Chelsea
Thistle Magazine

“… THE GOTHIC RAINBOW by Eric Muss-Barnes is, frankly, one of the most absorbing novels that I have read in quite some time. … I’ve found the book well worth my time, and I hope you will give it a shot. I do not believe you will be sorry. At the end, I think you will agree that Eric Muss-Barnes will be a name to watch …”
– Christopher T. Miller
Books Stacks

“… it’s quite a page-turner, with lots of shocking vampiric escapades. This book, on the whole, is extremely well-written with a wonderful poetic style. I’m glad I didn’t let the slow start scare me off …”
– Susan Moon
The Nocturnal Lyric

“… I haven’t yet begun the book itself, and I am already amazed and anticipatory: I feel as one does when you read a page in a book and think, “Yes! I feel that way too!”… That delight …”
– Karen

“… I must admit that I didn’t think I’d like your book. When I first read the title, I thought, “Oh, brother, this is going to be cheesy.” I must relent my original thoughts (NEVER judge a book by it’s cover), and heap praises onto you. I COULD NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN! I took THE GOTHIC RAINBOW on vacation with me, and spent a lot of time each day in coffee shops reading. I was sad when I finished; I had come to know each character and felt close to them. I wanted more! …”
– Katie

“… I loved this novel, though Chapter 23 did throw me for a loop. I liked the way you interweaved dreams and current life. Threw me for a moment, but then I caught on. I also see you are a bit of a Shakespeare fan yourself. Really know how to manipulate me, don’t we? …”
– Raquel

“… I just finished reading THE GOTHIC RAINBOW. All I can say is “Wow!” Man, I can’t remember the last time I read a book that gave me the willies like that! …”
– Steve

“… Your view and opinion of how a vampire should and would act is exactly what I envisioned – I’ve often thought that most of the books that I read were totally off on how one would feel and behave if one were a vampire. … I felt as though I had gained some friends by the final page. And I also wished that I hadn’t ended. I read your novel in 2 DAYS (much to the amazement of everyone), and completely absorbed every page …”
– Donna

“… I remember how it was just getting cold when I received your book, and how it kept me company for two nights while I constantly sipped Cotton Club ginger ale in my bed and disconnected the phone because I wanted to see what happened uninterrupted …”
– Elisabeth

“… as for your writing style – One word: Eloquent! … Your use of imagery, or words to create imagery is extraordinary. Very passionate. I can’t imagine what you must have been feeling as you wrote this epic …”
– Chris

“… As I read THE GOTHIC RAINBOW, I could sense that Eric Muss-Barnes has a definite passion for writing…”
– Jeff Davis
Puck & CLF News

“… THE GOTHIC RAINBOW gives solace and escape for those who feel trapped in a messed-up world full of heartaches and misunderstandings. There is plenty of sex and violence to stimulate, but it’s the delicate beauty and passionate writing of this novel that will touch your soul …”
– Octavia
Outburn Magazine

Shadows know nothing of what you have seen, do they? And everyone who meets you, would never suspect all the pain you have endured this life.

Enough to make death that much closer… on those certain nights… all alone… when things get really bad…

Death you know well. The stories it can tell. Every page carved to your blood. Despair. And a thousand sentences of crucifixion have you been read and convicted in a tomb built of your own hands.

Your story is nothing.

Write all your stupid, self-indulgent poems and cry all your pathetic tears of self-pity. No one cares at all.

This book is for the lost. For all who have cried without making a sound. All who have longed for moments that never were. Within these pages shines a dim candle down every path of your oblivion.

Along these words leads a road down which you shall never turn back. A story carved from the part of your soul that knows more agony than all. The first time you read these words was a solitary moment in time that every sorrow in your life had delivered you to.

You are home…

The Gothic Rainbow, like all of my books, is available in hardcover, paperback, or as an eBook for your Kindle or Nook or iPad or whatever. Simply visit the website below to purchase the book in whatever format you desire: