Publishing is a funny, strange and weird business that is a mystery to anyone outside of it. I always think of the time, when mentioning that I'd finished writing my book, my mother asked me why I was bothering rewriting it. I should have an editor do it. Poor, naive mom. Most people in my life have no understanding of the business of publishing. They think it's simple. Hell, I THOUGHT it was simple in the salad days of my youth.
I can remember being 21, slinging soda bottles and bags of chips on the shelves of the grocery store I worked at telling anyone who would listen that I was going to be on the NY Times Bestseller list by 26 with my brilliant literary fiction novels and write my epic fantasies on the side for fun. Naturally, my brilliant literary fiction novels were thinly veiled semi-biographical stories of my life while my epic fantasies were merely quest-based thinly veiled semi-biographical stories about my friends and I growing up in a fantasy world.
Part of my problem was that the internet was in it's infancy and I was a neophyte. I had no connection with the writing world beyond what I read in the writing books at Barnes and Noble (oh, what wasted money those were). I had no one else that aspired to write as I did. Most people tolerated my carrying on and on. Most people still do. (That's another blog entry for another time.) Even as I prodded and poked around the Internet and found friends and companions and kindred spirits, I was still entirely too full of myself. But I was starting to get a feel for where I came from as a writer and found others that were even more like me.
In this day and age of Twitter and Facebook and blogs, it's easy to find mates like that. Thanksgiving weekend, in the turkey-and-stuffing-and-pumpkin-pie induced malaise, I began to think about my contemporaries. The men and women that I share a common bond in experience when it comes to writing. Many are well-known, published and successful and yet I consider them contemporaries. What does that mean?
I am part of Generation X. I was born in 1973. My formative years straddled the ever-popular 80s and 90s, but I consider myself a "child" of the 90s. My love of fantasy came less from Tolkein and more from Dragonlance. There was no "young adult" category when I was younger as there is now. There as no "middle grade." The library was split into three parts: reference, nonfiction and fiction. That's the list.
There's lots of ways to organize varying groups of contemporaries and I'm sure that each of our lists would be very different if we were to push ourselves to decide which authors were contemporaries to another, but I wonder, who are my contemporaries? Who would I be most associated with when the day comes that my book is out in the public and I wither in the bright lights of my shining fame?
So, who do I count among my contemporaries?
Well, first and foremost, my rabid fandom around George RR Martin makes me hope that I am deemed a good enough writer to be called a pretender to his throne of greatness. (Yes, lofty and egotistical!) There are other legends I hope I am associated with: Tamora Pierce, Bruce Coville, Neil Gaiman and John Flanagan come to mind.
But realistically? First there is Mike Winchell. We're Warriors (our HS mascot) but only met via the internet. He writes primarily MG, I write fantasy with some YA. But he has been a friend, sounding board and adviser in the last year and change.
Who else? I'll make a list:
Peadar O Guilin
Blake "More Cowbell" Charlton
Peter V. Brett
(I'm sure there are more. The lack of women on this list bothers me on some level.)
Who would you consider your contemporaries? Why?