The other day, I was chatting with some of my co-workers at my day job, and the subject of Dragon*Con came upâ€”of which I’m a directorâ€”and particularly last Dragon*Con, where we had Leonard Nimoy as a guest.Â The discussion got around to how he has embraced his Star Trek lineage now where in the past he tried to distance himself from it, not wanting to be typecast forever as Spock.
It started me musing upon the nature of fame and creative pigeonholes.Â From where I’m sitting, as a writer whose last name isn’t “King” or “Rowling,” it’s still an occasion for shock and thrilled confetti throwing when I encounter someone who’s actually heard of me or read my work.Â This industry doesn’t exactly bequeath household-name celebrity status on a regular basis, plus I’m primarily a short story writer. So yeah, I’m a far cry from and don’t consider myself to be “famous.”Â But even with the (very) minuscule amount of recognition I get, I and my work still get typecast.
I was perusing a forum recently where one of my stories was being discussed, and one of the posters commented that they found this particular story of mine surprising because it wasn’t what they normally expect from meâ€”that being Asian fantasy.Â And I started wondering if I was writing too much Asian fantasy.Â Should I write more science fiction?Â Or maybe some horror?Â I haven’t written any horror since I quit my corporate cubicle-monkey day job.Â But hang on, I like Asian fantasy.Â That’s why I write it.Â And hey, I’ve written far more stories that aren’t Asian fantasy than are.Â So what gives? Am I being stereotyped? Do folks think of me as an Asian fantasy writer because my collection, Returning My Sister’s Face and Other Far Eastern Tales of Whimsy and Malice, is Asian fantasy?
Wait a minute, does that mean people are reading my book?Â Woohoo!
And that’s the crux of it.Â The world is filled with artists seeking an audience for their work: unpublished writers, aspiring actors, ambitious painters, starry-eyed musicians.Â Most of them will never find an audience; it’s the nature of being an artist.Â In any creative field, to be known, to have any audience whatsoever is an accomplishment, since the norm is utter obscurity and complete indifference.
Being stuck into someone’s genre niche means that person has encountered enough of my work to have shaped their expectations about it and about me as a writer. Yippee! I made an impression!
So typecast me.Â Go on.Â You know you wanna.
Guest blogger Eugie Foster calls home a mildly haunted, fey-infested house in metro Atlanta that she shares with her husband, Matthew, and her pet skunk, Hobkin.Â Her publication credits number over 100 and include stories in Realms of Fantasy, Interzone, Cricket, OSC’s InterGalactic Medicine Show, Fantasy Magazine, and anthologies Best New Fantasy (Prime Books), Heroes in Training (DAW Books), and Best New Romantic Fantasy 2 (Juno Books).Â Her short story collection, Returning My Sister’s Face: And Other Far Eastern Tales of Whimsy and Malice, is now out from Norilana Books.Â Visit her at EugieFoster.com.