11.25.2005

The belonging and the beshorting of it

When querying, should you list groups you've belonged to that might not be your current genre? I use to be a member of RWA but am now writing urban fantasy.

What the hell is urban fantasy?
Urban is the new phrase for hip hop lit.
Is Urban fantasy hip hop on dragons?

ok, enough snarkiness.

No. You include only the facts that are relevant. If you're writing a memoir, membership in the Romance writers association, while laudable, and perhaps a source of some of the good stories in the memoir, is not high on a list of things an agent wants to know. If' you've PUBLISHED things in other areas, by all means include those, but not just memberships without a credit list.

Miss Snark is a member of the Fruit of the Month club but tactfully leaves it off her calling cards and resume.

8 comments:

Harry Connolly said...

The term urban fantasy predates hip hop lit. I'm pretty sure it predates hip hop.

It really just means fantasy set in cities, as opposed to long journeys across vast tracts. It also implies a contemporary setting.

Rick said...

The contemporary setting is crucial. A fantasy set in a medieval-like city would never be described as an urban fantasy (though a fantasy set in contemporary Montana would also probably not be called an urban fantasy).

I think there's also a noir-ish connotation - think of urban fantasy as somewhat the fantasy counterpart of cyberpunk.

Bethany said...

You think urban fantasy is bad. Someone once called my book "urban dark fantasy," and I was amazed that my fantasy could be darkly urban, much less that it's anything even remotely fantastic. (There's demons. And exorcisms. And so I usually call it supernatural somethingorother.)

Harry Connolly said...

_The Encyclopedia of Fantasy_ differentiates between contemporary fantasy and urban fantasy, and the distinction is useful. They definitely consider any fantasy set in a city, with all the baggage that comes from city life, to be urban fantasy whatever the time period. I don't own the book anymore or I'd pull it off the shelf and quote it. As I said, it's useful.

And I've been informed that the term was coined in the early '80's, so it doesn't actually predate hip hop.

Not that this is important in any way. I only mention it because this is one of the few times "urban" doesn't mean "black people."

Kimi said...

In an attempt to get you a definition Miss Snark, I ran across this website (http://www.greenmanreview.com/column/pp03.html) It's actually a very good page about what urban fantasy is all about as a genre.

Bernita said...

Charles de Lint's stuff has been described as urban fantasy.
No hip-hop I could see.

Sela Carsen said...

So was Robin McKinley's SUNSHINE urban fantasy?

Rick said...

In this case, I think common usage has left THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF FANTASY behind. Fritz Leiber's stories about Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser mostly took place in the city of Lankhmar (IIRC), but I don't think they'd now be called urban fantasy.

You're right, though, that this is a rare case in US English where "urban" is not a code word for "black."