On the one hand, I love depressing glimpses into the human soul. Give me grim, give me bleak, give me chilling and stark. Happy endings? Who needs them! Margaret Atwood, Flannery O'Connor, Daphne Du Marier, and Joyce Carol Oates are some of my favorite authors. Discovering "A Good Man Is Hard to Find" at seventeen inspired me to be an author one day. The Blind Assassin moved me to tears--tears of awe. When I finished Mockingjay, I kept whispering "Wow" to myself, because I was so stunned and delighted by her courageously dark ending to the series.
And I love to write this way too. I'll finish a short story, triumphantly present it to my husband, and ask proudly, "Isn't it so deliciously awful? Isn't it chilling? Doesn't it just make you want to lie awake all night and THINK?" (Most of my short stories tend to be this darker literary style.)
To which he usually replies, "You love sad stuff. It's weird."
He doesn't like "sad stuff."
|My styles are night and day different.|
(And that's just as valid a form of art, in my opinion.)
And I also love writing this kind of thing. Naturally, it's completely different than the first in both theme and style. It's also a little more commercial than the former, perhaps.
So I wonder--CAN I DO BOTH? It's not even a question of genre, because I tend to stay pretty close to sci fi and fantasy these days. But I don't want to give readers whiplash.
I've been told (vaguely) by a few agents that no, I can't.
I do not want this to be true. I don't want to have to choose one or the other. To date, my success so far in publication has been with the bleaker stuff (my short story "Vestigial Organs"). But there's hope for my fun stuff too, right?
I've considered possible solutions. I might have to use another name for the more lighthearted stuff. (Also, it occurs to me, what I consider lighthearted isn't exactly fluffy necessarily ... it's just not hopelessly grim, and it has a happy ending!) I'm trying to think of authors who do this.
I might have to settle for mixing my light and dark. I think Megan Whalen Turner does this to perfection. Her books are pretty dark in some ways, but the lasting impression I always come away with is "hilariously funny and immensely cathartic in the end." I also think JK Rowling always did a good job with light and dark. I know her stuff gets pretty hardcore, but my lasting impression of her books, however, is "lighthearted." I don't mean that in a dismissive way, mind you.
Fellow writers, do you like to write in more than one style? How do you manage it? Can you think of successful authors who are all over the spectrum in their book styles?