So, by now you might have heard that Dreamspinner Press is branching out again. In addition to their YA imprint, Harmony Ink, last month saw the launch of DSP Publications, an imprint dedicated to genre fiction such as Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery, Paranormal, Horror, among others.
I know some are wondering why. Dreamspinner already publishes a multitude of genres under their M/M Romance umbrella, so why bother making a whole new imprint?
Well, I won’t speak for Dreamspinner, because they can very well speak for themselves. But I will happily tell you why I think this imprint was necessary and why I’m so pleased to be a part of it.
I write Fantasy. There, I said it. I don’t write Romance with Fantasy elements. I don’t write Romance with elves and trolls and a bit of magic thrown in for spice. I don’t actually write Romance at all. I kind of wish I did—Romance sells better than Fantasy, and I’ve no doubt I’d be collecting more respectable royalties if I could do what so many of the Dreamspinner authors do so well.
But I write Fantasy, and worse, I write character-driven Fantasy, which means the characters do not exist to develop and further the plot, but the plot exists to develop and enhance the characters. There’s a lot of world-building. There’s a bunch of characterization, and a great deal of it’s focused on characters who are not the two protagonists. There’s usually a plot that requires constant attention and has a lot of subtle complexities that matter to the overall arcs. It’s a lot of stuff, and not everyone’s cuppa. And all of this stuff matters just as much as the relationship between the two protagonists, if not more.
So, when someone stumbles into one of my books looking for Romance and instead finds complex political systems and godly machinations and multiple points of view, and—worst of all—plots and subplots that have nothing to do with the two protagonists’ love affair, it’s not surprising that they would frown and wonder WTF? What does all of this have to do with these guys getting together?
And I can’t blame them. My books have, after all, been published through a top publisher of quality gay romantic fiction. It’s right there on their site. They’ve been doing it since 2007, and doing it incredibly well, and I’m proud to be a part of it. And while Dreamspinner has never limited itself to the strictest definition of Romance—Elizabeth North, Executive Director of Dreamspinner Press, has been quoted as saying, “It’s Romance if I say it’s Romance”—there is still an expectation for books published through a romance press. Namely that they be Romance. Because duh. Unfortunately for me, it’s an expectation my books don’t meet.
There’s romance in my books in the same sense that there’s romance in books like The Hunger Games or The Crystal Cave series. It’s there somewhere but nowhere near the point of the story. It matters, yes, and it enhances the characterizations and in some ways adds to the plot, but it’s not intrinsic to the plot or the characterizations. The love story could be taken out and the arcs would all remain basically intact.
Romance—real Romance—is different. In Romance, the whole point of the plot is the love story. There can certainly be world-building and subplots and complexities, no question, but without the love story, the plot would be too slim to support the rest of the story’s elements. The point of a Romance is the romance.
And because there are huge differences between “Romance with fantasy elements” and “Fantasy with romantic elements”, authors like me have had a difficult time really fitting anywhere. We are the tiny dots on the Venn Diagram where Romance and Insert-genre-here intersect. What we do is often too different from Romance readers’ expectations to appeal to the majority of them. Our little slices of the pie consist mainly of those readers who #1 enjoy our chosen genre(s), and #2 enjoy reading M/M. We are the nichest of the niche.
Lucky for me, though, these differences haven’t gone unnoticed by Dreamspinner. Even luckier for me, they’ve set themselves to adjusting those expectations by launching DSP Publications, its very own Island of Misfit Toys, and inviting all of we Charlie-in-the-Boxes and winged lions and ostrich-riding cowboys to be a part of it.
I am honored and enormously pleased to be in the company of the vast well of talent that is the collective of DSP Publications’ authors. And I hope all of you Spec Fic nerds, you Mystery sleuths, you Horror mavens, you Historical geeks—I hope you’re as excited as I am to have a new imprint that focuses on the genres I’ve known and loved all my life, and mixes them with the M/M dynamics that brought me to Dreamspinner Press in the first place.
Please join me in welcoming the following authors to a new twist in the still changing and growing story of M/M presses in general and Dreamspinner Press (and its imprints) in particular:
P.S. If anyone happens to be in the DC area, J Tullos Hennig and I will be attending World Fantasy Con today through the 9th. Come see us and get hot-off-the-press 2nd Edition copies of
Carole Cummings lives with her husband and family in Pennsylvania, USA, where she spends her time trying to find time to write. Author of the Aisling and Wolf’s-own series, Carole is an avid reader of just about anything that’s written well and has good characters. She is a lifelong writer of the “movies” that run constantly in her head. Surprisingly, she does manage sleep in there somewhere, and though she is rumored to live on coffee and Pixy Stix™, no one has as yet suggested she might be more comfortable in a padded room. Well, not to her face.
Free shorts, sneak peeks at WIPs, and other miscellany can be found at www.carolecummings.com.