When I heard the news of Tor.com launching a novella imprint, focusing on digital sales and experimenting with different sales and promotion strategies, as well as offering a higher royalty rate on digital sales, Macmillan had my curiosity.
When they hired my former Angry Robot colleague Lee Harris as the Imprint’s Senior Editor, well…
My curiosity piqued and my attention garnered, I was inspired. This led to a very funny series of brainstorms, where Marketing Mike went to Writer Mike and said,
“Self. This is a great model. We want in on this. This is 21st century publishing. Let’s come up with an idea for a series in novellas. Like TV in prose – get Tor.com in for at least a couple to launch the series, then continue it with them or author-publish the rest, using those first two books’ promotional reach to broaden the funnel and get people invested. And if they pass, you can just author-publish the whole thing. You can’t lose.”
To which Writer Mike said,
“Sure, I’ll see what I can do.”
So, with my Writer Hat on, I poked my head into the Giant Green Room of my brain, where dozens of writing ideas (most of them auditioning to be novels) awaited my attention. So I grabbed an idea out of the Green Room and set it tumbling, accreting awesome inspirations and metamorphosing until it became:
Genrenauts is a comedic SF series with a plurality of narrative forebears: Quantum Leap, Planetary, Indexing, Leverage, The Middleman, and more. Compared to my other work, the series is most like the Ree Reyes books (Geekomancy, Celebromancy, etc.) but with its own tone and point of view.
In Genrenauts, our Earth is just one of many in a multiverse. Each other Earth is the home to a familiar narrative genre: Westerns, Fantasy, Romance, Crime, etc. Each world is constantly playing out stories from its genre, archetypes and tale types smashing up against one another making tragedies and happily ever afters. But like any system, sometimes entropy takes hold, and a story breaks down. When that happens, the Genrenauts step in to fix the story.
Because if they don’t, the dissonance from the broken story spills over and changes Earth on a fundamental level. (Science Fiction world goes off-track and scientific innovation stymies, exploration halts; Fantasy world goes off-track and xenophobia rises, cultural rifts widen).
Our series starts when Leah Tang, a struggling stand-up comic, is recruited to join the Genrenauts and discovers that her seemingly-useless genre savvy is suddenly an essential skill for survival in the story worlds.
So, back to the announcement
Tor.com will be publishing the first two episodes of the series:
The Shootout Solution
The Absconded Ambassador
and maybe more yet to come! (To Be Determined)
But this isn’t your average science fiction book series, no no! Genrenauts is a series in novellas – each novella an episode delivering all of the fun of shows like Warehouse 13, Leverage, or The Librarians, in prose form. It’s basically TV for your ereader (or audiobook player, or your bookshelf).
And like my serial storytelling hero J. Michael Stracyzinski, I have a master plan. Each season will have six episodes, and I’m planning for the series to run five seasons.
Episodes 1 and 2 of Season One are coming from Tor.com, and Episodes 3-6 will be released either with Tor.com or on my own, depending (again, TBD).
I’m incredibly excited to bring you Genrenauts with Tor.com as my partners – the series is a return to form for me after experimental works like Shield and Crocus and The Younger Gods. Expect compelling characters, action and adventure, my personal brand of comedy, and all of my thoughts about what makes genres and storytelling tick.
And in conclusion…