I had the title before I had almost anything else: Snake-Boy Loves Sky Prince. I still love that title. Next came the tagline: “a gay superhero teen romance.”
It has been pointed out to me that Snake-Boy Loves Sky Prince bears precious little similarity to a “romance novel.” That’s probably because I have never been able to actually read a “romance novel.” Nothing against them. I just can’t get through one. The book just doesn’t follow the conventions. Despite the fact that it occurs between the defective clone of a snake-themed supervillain and the defective clone of a Superman parody, the romance in this novel is based on my own experiences. It’s not about heaving chests and the rest. That’s not to say it’s a brilliant and amazing work of pure originality, either. It’s as derivative as any romance novel, but it bears a closer resemblance to the work of writers like Philip K. Dick, Kurt Vonnegut, and early Harlan Ellison than it does to Stephanie Meyer. Writers I actually love.
That’s entirely my bad. I had meant for it to be more like Twilight.
What I had before I had the title and the tagline was the desire to make money with my writing, and an elevator pitch: “Twilight with superheroes and supervillains instead of vampires and werewolves.”
The goal was to make myself one! million! dollars! with such a commercial idea.
But I just couldn’t go there. I just couldn’t do that. I ended up writing something that I would actually like, rather than something I could cynically market. (Whether or not my original idea was as commericial as I imagined it would be is another question — one I’ll never be able to answer; I may have just saved myself a lot of disappointment and misery by failing to write what I thought I was going to write).
I still love the title, and I still love the tagline, but it’s becoming pretty clear that calling the thing a “romance” is keeping readers — the kind of readers who would enjoy what I am writing, anyway — away. Even though there’s a romantic relationship at the heart of the thing. It’s not a romance novel. And calling it that is weirding people out.
So what should I call it? I’m keeping the title. But the tagline needs to be changed. Here’s what I’m thinking:
a gay superhero teenage romantic comedy
Or does that open up an entirely new can of unmeetable expectations?