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Ben H. Winters on Genre-Bending Novels

Today’s guest on the Morning Media Menu was Ben H. Winters. He has written a number of novels, including Edgar Award-winning The Last Policeman. Countdown City, the sequel to that genre bending novel about a detective solving crimes despite the fact an astroid will destroy the Earth, comes out this week.

Press play below to listen to the complete interview on SoundCloud. Winters shared some advice for writers working with genre bending books:

Your goal is to have something that is ultimately character-driven, ultimately more than just a concept. It needs a deep root, something that you are interested in investigating. A real book. So that it just doesn’t feel cheap. The truth is, you want to let the people whose job it is to worry about that stuff worry about that stuff. What you want to do is write a book that you know is of value, that you know you can make good and do right. And if it’s good enough and done right, then people will be interested in it. I don’t doubt that.

Winters added:

You have to find a publisher who is willing to take a bit of a risk. There are publishers (I’m lucky to say that Quirk Books is one of them) who are looking for things that have something of a heightened conceit. I hope that beneath that fun and unusual concept that there is something of real literary merit. There are other publishers who would shy away from something that would appear to be merely a crazy, genre-bending thing.

Finally, I tried to trick Winters into revealing the ending of his trilogy (we won’t know until next summer). He responded:

I wanted this book to be as realistic as possible inside the context of its premise. If there were an object of this size that was spotted (which is extremely unlikely), there would be nothing that we as a civilization could do right now to destroy it. We simply haven’t put the resources into the kind of long term planning (either as a nation or as a world) to stop an object like this.

So the point is, yes. At the end of the book, as I have said from the beginning of the first book, this asteroid is going to hit. The timetable in terms of writing the book is that I’m working on it now. It is due at the end of the year and will come out next July.

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