Annette Marie’s work is predominately urban fantasy meant for young adults. Her characters are “older” than a standard young adult character often between seventeen and twenty. Her story lines do not happen in a school or within a typical teen framework, instead they focus on emotional beats and key road divergence style story plots that characterize young adult literature.
Marie’s urban fantasies cover two differing genres. One where magic/gods/demons has always existed with humanity. It changes very little in the day to day modern world because mortals can rarely experience and hold a memory of these powers and the powers themselves do not like urban development.
In another, these powers reveal themselves when humanity threatened their safety and took over our realm to protect us from our own destructive nature. The man vs magic struggle is strong in this series.
“Red Winter” is Marie’s best series by miles, though the first three books in “Steel & Stone” make a close second. If there weren’t another three books in “Steel & Stone” full of a downward descent, this section would be a debate over which series is the best.
Instead, Annette Marie’s career is a fascinating case study regarding writing priorities. She’s an imaginative talentedwriter with a thriving fan base. She’s made her career testing out various stories and creating more when her readers responded to her writing.
I had mixed feelings in including Annette Marie. While I love some of her work, I also dislike or was disappointedalmost as much of it as I enjoyed. I came into this article expecting to discuss writers’ fatigue (a classic Stephen King fault) or discussing how writers’ shouldn’t keep stories going past their natural end point.
BUT further research on Marie’s writing career highlights that she may have different goals than I do in creating her stories. It seems she’s trying to create a fan base and doesn’t mind stretching what’s popular in her writing to build that base. Her motives may extend beyond always telling the story she wants to tell to telling a story people want to read. What obligation do writers have to respond to their audience’s desires? Does it impede good story telling or does it create creative story narratives readers want?
Take Aways from Annette Marie’s Success:
1. Be responsive and interactive with your audience. Annette Marie and all writers can only succeed if others are interested in their stories. When you find something that speaks to your audience hold on to it.
2. An older protagonist in young adult literature works. The story beats that identify a work as young adult transcend the age of one’s main characters.
3. “Magic is secret” does not have to be the default setting for urban fantasy AND readers don’t want or need large exposition drops to integrate magic into a modern world.
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