in which I fail to compare

This is going to sound like I’m looking for flattery, but what I’m actually after is assistance.

I have never been able to muster the perspective necessary to say who I write like. It’s one of the things authors are occasionally expected to do; it positions you in the genre, in the textual conversation we’re all having, and coincidentally helps with self-promotion, pitching new projects, and a bunch of other writing-related program activities where you’re not allowed to ramble on for five minutes describing what you write. Sure, we’re all individual snowflakes, but comparisons are still possible, whether they’re straightforward or of the intersection-style “Bridget Jones’ Diary meets H.P. Lovecraft” variety.

But I can’t do it. For individual stories, occasionally — more by comparison to a genre or a specific point of inspiration — but I’ve got no perspective on the general body of my work, not in a useful way. So I turn to you, my internet friends: who do you think I write like? Why? Are you basing your comparison on plots, favorite themes, prose styles? (That last is the true black hole of my inability to reflect; again, I can say an individual story has a nineteenth-century sound to it or whatever, but I can’t begin to describe my prose in general, much less liken it to anybody else’s.)

I can think of two comparisons I’ve gotten in reviews, both of which have induced something of an “I’m not worthy!” reaction. The more comprehensible one, from my perspective, is Ursula K. LeGuin; she’s the daughter of anthropologists, and it shows. (I’ve gotten that comparison twice, for “White Shadow” and more recently “Kingspeaker” — both of which are set in the world that I created to be my anthropological playground.) When I think about my whole cultural fantasy thing, I can see where those reviewers are coming from, even if I’m a long way from having sufficient ego to liken myself to her. Less obvious to me are the Midnight Never Come reviews that compare the book to the work of Neil Gaiman. Aside from the semi-parallel to Neverwhere, I have a harder time seeing where I’m like him.

But, as I said, I have no perspective on this. So please: imagine you’ve got a friend asking for recommendations. What authors might make you say, oh, try Marie Brennan? And when your friend asks why, what would you say to them?

I’d be hard-pressed to answer those questions, myself. I’m hoping you guys can help out with that.

0 Responses to “in which I fail to compare”

  1. fjm

    Jean Plaidy with a touch of magic?

    • Marie Brennan

      After I posted this, I began speculating as to patterns I would see in the answers, and you have fallen squarely into the “uh, who?” category. 🙂 I am utterly unfamiliar with Jean Plaidy, but would like to know more. (Since it’s entirely possible this post will double as a “hey, recommend some new authors to me!” solicitation.)

      • fjm

        She’s a historical novelist most active in the 1960s who specialised in stories about Kings and Queens. Her best were the Stuart books.

        Stuart Saga
        1. The Murder in the Tower (1964)
        2. A Health Unto His Majesty (1956)
        3. The Wandering Prince (1956)
        4. Here Lies Our Sovereign Lord (1957)
        5. The Three Crowns (1965)
        6. The Haunted Sisters (1966)
        7. The Queen’s Favourites (1966)

  2. d_c_m

    You write like Marie Brennan, who, with a few short words, can convey a tapestry of scenery, culture, and character.

    Yes, you may quote me any time you like. 😉

  3. sartorias

    When I rec your work, I find myself aiming my rec at people who like solid history behind their genre elements.

    • Marie Brennan

      See, I can do it on that basis; I can articulate the things that go into my stories. What I can’t do is place myself among other writers.

  4. miintikwa

    Elizabeth Bear’s fantasy, which is multi-layered and multifaceted (though there is a tish of uncomfortableness, in that you both wrote fiction about Elizabethan-era fairy. Hers were not assassins, I don’t think, tho– I haven’t read hers yet.)

    Also, Patricia Briggs. 🙂

    • Marie Brennan

      What about Patricia Briggs specifically? (She’s on my TBR list, but the TBR list is unfortunately eighteen miles long . . . .)

      • miintikwa

        The realism of the characters, and the ability to create a tough, vulnerable, yet believable main character female. The flawed but driven thing, I think, is a point in common.

        (Also, I tried very hard to sell Warrior/Witch to a random stranger today. I didn’t make the sale today, but hopefully they’ll come back and pick ’em up later. :D)

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