A former boyfriend once asked me whether I wanted to write books for the Blue Room or the Gold Room at Powell’s. I answered honestly. I said the Blue Room.
For those of you not from Portland, one of the things our city is known for – besides rain and putting birds on things – is this bookstore, which takes up an entire city block and has Portland’s most terrifying parking garage. Each room is a different color classified by a genre. Literary fiction is in the Blue Room, a lot of classics and prize winners and book club books. Genre fiction is in the Gold Room: mysteries, thrillers, fantasy, and science fiction. You get the idea.
There was a tone to the question asked by the former boyfriend as if he expected me to snub the Gold Room. At the time many of the books I read came from the Blue Room, so naturally I imagined myself writing those kinds of stories. Whether or not that confirmed his suspicions, I don’t know. But at the time I saw myself writing literary fiction.
I never imagined writing something for the Gold Room, yet the book I am working on now will likely end up there as will the other two that are in my head. The story needs to be told in it’s own way, a way that doesn’t meet the expectations I once had, and that challenged me to explore a different means of storytelling. It has taken blood, sweat, and tears. That and it has given me the reputation of being that person who is “working on a novel.” But when it comes to this, the writing, I’ve never backed down from seeing what I’m made of.