I've got say that there isn't a single category I'd put Shades of Luz. To call it a fast-past coming-of-age-story, urban adventure would be to miss the point. It's about finding love and meaning. It's about aimless dreams and letting them go. Sometimes our lives feel as is they are without any direction and sometimes it feels like we cannot find the right path.
I wrote Shades of Luz so that the protagonist Benny Fluke could find his way. With that in mind I really had no idea where he would end up and after a few aborted attempts found where he needed to go. There were a few characters too who once were foils, but were removed in order to keep the focus of the story.
Killing your darlings, as many writers already know, is a bit like killing off a part of you. But, often it is necessary for the betterment of the work.
When I was sending out my manuscript, I sent a number out to different presses. Some strictly literary, others mainstream, slipstream, hard-boiled, sci-fi, fantasy, multi-genre, and a number of them said Shades of Luz defied all categories. In other words, there was no neatly-packed genre it would fit into.
What do you do if you get good feedback, but nobody wants to publish your book? Well, I wasn't going to hide under a rock or cut my throat, but it did annoy me that nobody seemed to want to take the chance with it. Self-publishing did cross my mind, but as I got closer to finishing up my MFA program I thought of the things my professors would say or what would universities say when I applied to teach at them and I only had one novel, self-published to my credit.
There seems to be a double standard when it comes to non-fiction. Fiction writers go through a lot more scrutiny. I'm not exactly sure why that is the case, but it is a reality nevertheless. X-libris used to hound me. Somehow I'd gotten on their marketing list and believe me I thought long and hard about it.
When I got word from All Things That Matter Press that they wanted to publish Shades of Luz I was ecstatic, but also petrified. The whole world was going to see my words and would be able to judge them. Because I'd been nursing my novel for so many years this naturally scared me. It took me a about a month to settle down and then with all the edits we needed to do before the book went live I was on the verge of hyperventilation. I stress the hyperbole because it is true that bringing a book into the world is a lot like giving birth. A bit cliche perhaps, but nevertheless true.
Now that the book is out there whenever I am asked by critics what it's about I have to be a quick thinker because it's still an undefinable hybrid.