My Comparative Title and Blurb Journey
Comparative titles and blurbs.
They’re a pain. Genre feels like a marketing game and sometimes it’s hard to pin your book into one category or another, especially if you’re like me and your elevator pitch attempts sound like, “Imagine Supernatural crossed with Lonesome Dove but like in an alternative history like American Hippo, and with a creature feature like in The Only Good Indians but, like, more dark fantasy slash weird west mash up…”
So to help me get that mess of a pitch condensed and figure out what exactly is my genre, I went through the comp titles I’ve read to guide me and tried to narrow my ideas down.
An Easy Death by Charlaine Harris and American Hippo by Sarah Gailey both feature the USA defined and changed by a singular moment which pivoted the timeline away from known history. The death and assassination of FDR or the introduction of hippos into American swamps.
In I Have Asked To Be Where No Storms Come, the defining moment is more landscape oriented. A huge earthquake created a near impassable canyon between the East and West, leaving the Brightside full of industry and technological evolution, while the West is stuck in the past, with the dregs of industry filtering over piecemeal. Is this Dark and Bloody canyon a natural phenomena? Or is there foul magic at play that created it? Like the two comp titles above, the changed world has resulted in a place of lawlessness, rogues, carnivals, terrible medical practices, and sacrificial magic.
The Dark Tower series by Stephen King and The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones are books I absolutely loved for multiple reasons, but here, the focus is the creature feature. Whether it’s a half spider human or a vengeful elk spirit, the characters are haunted and hunted by their past and the monsters created from their choices.
In I Have Asked To Be Where No Storms Come, monsters are abundant. But what if our protagonists were the monsters? Evil ancestral magic flows in their veins, which can only be obtained by making a deadly choice. Is this choice free will or fate? And are the “monsters” really evil, or are they doing everything in their power to preserve what they know and love? But, all the while, there is another creature desperately seeking something lost, who knows the depth of grief, and transforms into something unimaginable.
Wild West Magic
In The Book of Tongues by Gemma Files and The Six Gun Tarot by R.S. Belcher, things are tricky considering the colonialism of the American West and especially so in a dark fantasy horror setting. This is probably the thing I struggled with the most. I wanted this to be a story about my home but in doing that, it made me take a hard look at what magic lives in my large corner of the USA. There is a melting pot of magic living in this land. And, it seems to seep through without explanation, from names of places, to stories casually mentioned, to those stories that are only meant for certain ears. How can you know a place, be from a place, without understanding it in entirety? Or, is this a form of conquering and it should be that you belong with the place instead of seeking to uncover every little nuance of it?
I’m getting way too deep here. Let’s reel it back.
These two comp titles have a diverse array of magic within them, from Chinese jade eyes of resurrection to blood magic of ancient goddesses. In Have Asked To Be Where No Storms Come, the horror element is that this magic is a burden passed down through a lineage, but the origin has been erased from memory. It’s specific to the witch — both the method of tapping into it and what it can give you, what it does to you. It’s the backbone of the land you didn’t even know existed. It’s magic that has been appropriated and used in twisted ways, which becomes integral to our characters.
So, what does our final pitch look like with all this information?
In a United States transformed by a canyon called the Dark and Bloody radiating dark magic, two witch brothers, separated by loss and grief, must fight through a demon-infested underworld to find each other again. Yet, when their ancestral blood magic demands sacrifice, they must each decide what matters most: the world or each other.
What do you think? Too much? Too little? Is it amazing, fantastic, never seen before? Or just bad?
Hey, pitches are hard. Nothing is perfect.