Yesterday I had the absolute honour of being one of the bloggers invited to an evening organised by Orbit and Little, Brown Book Group which was all about Urban Fantasy. As a genre, I feel Urban Fantasy is at times quite overlooked. It falls very nicely between Paranormal Fiction and High Fantasy, creating worlds that are recognizable to the reader and yet still filled with fantastical creatures and stories. Personally I have to come to realise that it might very well be the genre I have always been looking for. The evening was hosted by the lovely Clara Diaz (Twitter), Jenni Hill (Twitter), Anna Gregson (Twitter) and Gemma Conley-Smith (Twitter) and we were even lucky enough to be able to meet two great Urban Fantasy authors: Amanda Carlson of the Jessica McClain-series and Benedict Jacka of the Alex Verus-series.
The evening started off with a look at Orbit's Urban Fantasy Catalogue. Including authors such as Kelley Armstrong, Jim Butcher and Charles Stross, the catalogue offers a great variety of authors, settings and characters. Whether you're looking for mages in London or jinns in Pittsburgh, there is bound to be a book amongst Orbit's upcoming releases for you. It was great to see how passionate the editors were about all of the authors and books. Personally I was most excited by the additions of mangas such as Gail Carriger's Soulless series, which look absolutely stunning, and even the manga adaptation of Cassandra Clare's Infernal Devices.
Being able to discuss Urban Fantasy with two authors who write in the genre was a real treat. Not only were there readings from the first books in their series (Full Blooded and Fated respectively), but we were also able to discuss certain genre traits with them. For example the choosing of the setting. Both authors preferred to write about places they knew rather than invent a new city. We also discussed the snarky sense of humour that seems intrinsic to most characters in Urban Fantasy books. Eventually we agreed that the recognizable setting, contrasted against the fantastical elements, brings out the heavy sarcasm both in authors and readers. Personally it is one of my favourite things about Urban Fantasy and is also one of the reasons the characters are so relatable for most readers.
It was also really interesting to be able to talk to "the other side". As a blogger, you sometimes worry about how and whether your reviews matter to the publishers. Whereas we worry about whether 3 or 4 star ratings are seen as favourable or not, publishers want to get the book out to as many people as possible. I was also greatly comforted to know that being rejected for a book on Netgalley isn't in fact a rejection of you as a person. The fact that the editors' passion for reading is as strong as the bloggers' definitely makes me less nervous about potentially contacting editors and publishers.
Besides receiving an amazing gift bag and being able to have some really interesting conversations, I also met some great bloggers, among whom were Stevie, who runs the Youtube channel SableCaught where she reviews books and discusses literature, and Megan, who writes great reviews over at The Book Addicted Girl. However, there weren't just bloggers. Theresa and Carol, both part of the Birmingham Science Fiction Group, had some great insight into the genre and many of its authors. Props should here be given to the hosts who looked beyond book blogging and also invited Kirsty and Becca, who study Publishing. By inviting such a diverse group of people who all share similar interests but have very different backgrounds, you get a lot of interesting conversations going.
Overall, it was an amazing evening. I really enjoyed myself and it has definitely increased my interest in the genre even more.