We’re all compared to other people for most of our lives. As soon as we develop our unique personalities, talents and appearance, it’s she looks like…, or he sounds just like…
Such comparisons are meant to flatter.
First time authors are no strangers to this process. If your first novel is a romance, chances are you’ll be compared to other established romance writers. If your book is based in a particular region, the comparison will be with other writers whose novels are based in that area. This is not a bad thing. The effort is to find a readership, and association with someone known and appreciated can be helpful to a prospective reader wondering if he or she might enjoy your work.
I’ve noted comparisons of my first novel with well-known authors and it’s quite flattering, actually somewhat embarrassing. John Grisham is the master of the legal thriller, and Greg Iles is an extraordinarily talented writer without regard to genre with most of his novels based in the South. Both are among my favorite writers. I can even appreciate how such comparisons might be made. My protagonist in Ice Fire, Jock Boucher, is a judge, hence the association with a legal thriller. It takes place mostly in New Orleans, thus the pairing with a southern regional writer.
But comparisons can only take one so far. For instance, Ice Fire begins with a courtroom drama—Judge Jock Boucher meets a scientist who’s been hiding from the law for twenty years. Grisham fans will warm up to this. Then we discover why the scientist has been in hiding and it involves his process for extracting a unique source of energy called methane hydrate from the sea bed at great depths. Next thing you know our judge is at the bottom of the ocean in a mini-submarine. Now this sounds more like Clive Cussler than John Grisham, so let’s make that analogy for the benefit of all the Cussler fans out there.
We learn that Jock Boucher is an attractive, strong, intelligent man who’s conflicted in his love life. Does he love his girlfriend? Is she being unfaithful to him? I think Oprah might find Jock an appealing character. Perhaps I could ask her.
Then Jock turns and takes the law into his own hands. He is vengeful. He is brutal. He kills bad guys; not exactly judicial demeanor. Lee Child fans may find similarities. Other writers have done well with anti-authoritarian protagonists as well.
Did I mention New Orleans? Readers have told me they loved the romp through the French Quarter and salivated reading about all the Cajun cuisine. Any of Emiril’s or Paul Prudhomme’s fans out there? I should put a warning on the cover jacket – ‘Reading Ice Fire may make you want to run out and buy a beignet.’
And finally there’s science. Ice Fire deals with methane hydrate. It is found at the bottom of the ocean and there is twice as much of it as all other fossil fuels combined. Several governments around the world have been conducting studies on its use as a fuel source this year. Methane hydrate is similar to natural gas, and Mad Money’s Jim Cramer is bullish on natural gas. It has the potential of eliminating our dependence on foreign oil. Mr. Cramer has a lot of fans out there too. I recommend my book to him and to them.
So I relish comparisons but would advise readers of Ice Fire not to limit expectations. There’s a lot to enjoy in my first novel, and you may find it does not fit narrow categorization.
And I think that’s a good thing.