Wednesday 23 April 2014

Guest Post ~ Jameson Scott Blythe.

Today I'm delighted to welcome Jameson Scott Blythe to Reviewed the Book, in an interesting guest post on 'Kaleidoscope Fiction'. Don't forget to check out his novel at the end of this post too, which you can pick up for free this week only!

Kaleidoscope Fiction

If you steadily consume any kind of story-driven entertainment, and have at least somewhat of an open mind, from time to time you come across those odd gems that don't easily fit into any one genre, the kind that have the rare ability to light up all your taste buds. In the spreadsheet where I keep track of the ever-growing list of things I intend to read, I label these "Kaleidoscope Fiction."

The phrase isn't my own. I acquired it a few years back in a Wall Street Journal review of Nick Harkaway's Angelmaker. The novel is an excellent illustration of the idea, a sprawling saga that shifts genres as its world turns, showing the reader glimpses of crime drama, urban fantasy, contemporary lit, steampunk, and WWII-era espionage.

Another example that comes to mind is The Dice Man by Luke Rhinehart. Written and set in the 1970s, It's about a middle-aged psychiatrist who feels trapped by his various roles in society: doctor, teacher, husband, father, neighbor, colleague. In retaliation, he begins deciding every choice he's faced with by rolling a die. Some decisions are inconsequential (what to eat for breakfast). Others are very twisted (and I won't spoil them here). The style of the novel mirrors the subject matter. It switches between first and third person narration. The content ranges from suspense, to black comedy, to philosophy, and occasionally, erotica. And in one of my favorite bits of worldbuilding, Rhinehart mixes in an appendix's worth of meeting notes, fictional articles, and documents. It's transgressive and utterly brilliant.

In a way, writing is its own language, and writers who can pull off this kind of work are multilingual. They have big lexicons, not for words (or not only for words). They know the language of thrillers, literary fiction, pulp, and romance. They write in whatever genre a moment in their story demands.

The novel I published last month is my first attempt at a piece of kaleidoscope fiction, though that wasn't my initial intention. I started out writing a very straightforward paranormal romance: girl falls for guy, discovers he has dark and supernatural secrets. As it evolved, new elements began to surface. Many of these I was reluctant to include, at least at first. The ghosts. The parts that read like pure thriller. The number of pages I give to the villains. At some point, I just went for it, and the book I ended up with is much better than the one I started writing. The parts I was reluctant to include ended up being some of the best moments.

The examples of kaleidoscope fiction I've given in this post have all been novels, but the idea really applies to any medium. Films. Comic books. Video games. When I explained this idea to a friend, the first thing that came to his mind was Gargoyles, a late-90s cartoon series that weaves together medieval mythology, present-day sci-fi, Shakespeare, megacorporations, crime-fighting, and a dozen other themes and ideas. This type of storytelling doesn't limit itself.

If you're reading this and you can think of any examples of kaleidoscope fiction, reach out. I'm always looking for something new to add to my list.

Jameson Scott Blythe is the author of paranormal/romantic/thriller/horror novel The Garden, available free at Amazon from April 22 through 26. Follow him on Twitter @shotsofjameson and on his website,

When Kat leaves her home in Germany to spend a year in the United States as an au pair, she finds new friends, new experiences, and a new love interest—Jake, the dark-haired, blue-eyed, slightly-older guy who works at a local cafe.

But it isn’t long before Kat’s new life takes a violent and unexpected turn. A band of ruthless, highly-organized men are stalking the American family she lives with.

Soon, Kat is running for her life, and though Jake is by her side, she learns her new crush is hiding a dark secret that may prove far more dangerous than the men who want to kill her—an otherworldly evil trapped behind a wall of iron and stone, waiting for blood, waiting for a chance to escape, waiting for someone like Kat.

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