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A Few Tricks

By Lisabet Sarai

Let me entertain you.

Let me see you smile.

Let me do a few tricks,

Some old and then some new tricks;

I'm very versatile.

- Stephen Sondheim, from Gypsy

I grew up singing musicals. When I was still in grade school, I knew most of the lyrics from "My Fair Lady", "South Pacific", "West Side Story", and "The Sound of Music". We had all the records (LPs, of course). My mom, in particular, used to play them while she was doing housework. I've always picked up songs and verse, without really trying. So I can still sing "On the Street Where You Live", "I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair" and "Tonight", as well as dozens more classics.

One of my mother's favorites was "Gypsy". I can see why, now - she was a bit like Gypsy Rose Lee's mom, flamboyant and stage struck. (It was her idea, for instance, for me and my two siblings to perform on a local TV amateur hour.) As for me, I was fascinated with the character of the famous burlesque star. I must have known even at that young age that there was something naughty about Gypsy's vocation. (I've always had instincts about that sort of thing!) Anyway, I would belt out "Let Me Entertain You" while I was doing the dishes, in between renditions of "Have an Eggroll, Mr. Goldstone" and "If Mama Was Married".

As I was thinking about a post for the Hot Spot blog this month, I realized that the song above could be my author-ly theme. I don't write to become famous (it'll never happen) or to contribute to the canon of great literature (despite my fantasies). For the most part, I write because I want to entertain my readers - and myself. And like Gypsy, I'm very versatile. I write in a wide range of different styles and genres, depending on my mood.

Want serious BDSM romance? Try Raw Silk or "The Understudy", in the Master Me anthology. Do you like M/M stories? Pick up a copy of Necessary Madness or Crossed Hearts. If vampires are your thing, you might enjoy Fire in the Blood, my M/M/F vampire ménage set in Jamaica. Speaking of ménage, if threesomes get you going, check out Truce of Trust (M/F/M with a touch of BDSM) or Monsoon Fever (M/M/F historical). Are shape shifters your favorite genre? Let me entertain you with my Mayan paranormal novel Serpent's Kiss.

I've noticed that many authors seem to specialize, to carve out a niche and stick to it. Not me. I'm easily bored, I guess. Or presenting myself in a more favorable light - I like to challenge myself by attempting to write in new genres. At the moment I have one WIP that's science fiction, one that's gothic and one that features a shape-shifter, specifically a were-penguin! If that's not versatile, I'm not sure what is. (I also write literary erotica, stories that don't necessarily focus on a single relationship or have a happy ending.) (And poems.)

There's another song from "Gypsy", sung by several of Gypsy's fellow strippers, called "You Gotta Get a Gimmick":

You can pull all the stops out

Till they call the cops out,

Grind your behind till you're banned

But you've gotta get a gimmick

If you wanna get a hand.

You can sacrifice your saccro

Working in the back row.

Bump in a dump till you're dead.

Kid, you gotta have a gimmick

If you wanna get ahead.

I sure hope that this isn't true. I'm too busy exploring to figure out a "gimmick". My stories have some common features and themes, I guess, but they are all quite different. That's both good and bad, I guess. A reader who has experience with one of my books doesn't really know what to expect from the next. On the other hand, if you're the sort of reader who likes things fresh and new, you might want to check me out. You can find covers, blurbs and excerpts for all my current work on my website. And if you're not ready to buy, check out my extensive collection of free reads.

Meanwhile, I'll go back to working on a few tricks for my next books.

Maybe I should write a story that revolves around musicals.


Bianca Sommerland said...

Personally, I don't think writing well could be considered a gimmick and that's exactly what you do. It doesn't matter the genre, or the story, so much as the ways it's told.

But do some author's have gimmicks or--what some mistakingly call--their niche? Absolutely. I find it's obvious when they've chosen that route because they think it will help them sell, rather than because it's what they love to write.

I write menage. Variations of, but it's unlikely I'll write anything else for erotic romance. It's what I'm passionate about, showing how such relationships can be romantic. By doing so, I'm losing all those readers who want normal couples. But I really don't mind. If I tried to write for them, I think my writing would suck. ;)

Any writer who can write what they love and still find a gimmick that will appeal to many, well, power to them.

Interesting post, Lisabet.

Hey, why don't you do a burlesque story?


Nina Pierce said...

I like writing in different genres. Like you, it keeps me from being bored.

She said...

I like reading different genres. If I like a writer I like seeing what else comes out of her/his pen. While I may like a character or a series, some authors tend to write cookie cutter books--all the same, maybe a new character in a series or changes the names and town but it's the same book over and over again. Variety is the spice of life and I like to read variety and spice.

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hello, all,

Thanks for your comments!

Bianca - see, I could never say "I write menage". I know that some authors feel passionate about a single genre, that they stick to that because it's what they love rather than because it's what sells. But not me.

Nina - yes, I think we're a lot alike!

She - it's readers like you that give me hope!

Wendi Zwaduk and Megan Slayer said...

There's no crime in seeing what else you can do. You never know, that one try in the opposite direction just might be the thing that really makes your heart sing. Never let yourself get bored,

I grew up listening to old Springsteen and Billy Joel on LP's. Yup, I loved the record player.