Who Is This JCM Person Anyway?

The Desk of JCM Berne

By JCM Berne

August 10, 2021

In most cases, when you pick up a book, you know a lot of things about it before reading a word. You’ve seen the cover, read an ad. You know where you got the book – which section of the bookstore, or under which search term on Amazon. 

If the book is by an author you know, you get a lot more information, and a lot of expectations that come with that information. If you pick up a Brandon Sanderson novel you know what you’re getting into – epic fantasy, lots of cool magic, a certain level of character development, and so on. If that book turned out to be a gritty, realistic crime thriller–even if it were a very good one—you’d be surprised and, most likely, disappointed.

As a newer author, you aren’t going to have that information, or those expectations, when you see my name on a book. So I’m going to help! Not by telling you about who I am as a person, but about what it means to a book that my name is on the cover.

[Short disclaimer: when I say I don’t write or read a certain of book, please don’t think I’m saying other people shouldn’t read or write them, and please don’t think I’m saying that this is the best sort of book. If you like literary horror novels, that’s fantastic, I’m very glad you found something you enjoy! You won’t find it here, though.]

Genre: I write superhero stories and high fantasy. That’s pretty much all I’m ever going to write. You’ll never see a book of fiction under my name about the struggles of an overweight upper-middle-class tech worker with children who don’t understand him. I don’t read those kind of stories, and I certainly have no interest in writing them.

Audience: I do not write YA. I think many younger readers would enjoy my books, but I never make writing decisions with the idea that I want my story to appeal to teenagers. On the other hand, I’m not trying so hard to be adult that I put a lot of gratuitous graphic sex and violence in my books. 

Tone: The dominant genre in fantasy and in superhero-for-adult literature is probably grimdark. It’s a focus on grim and dark themes (hence the name!) which many argue is a more realistic approach to stories. I do NOT write grimdark. I like to think of my works as hopepunk – though that term isn’t really in common usage.

My heroes will survive, and they will win. Nothing too brutal or dark is going to happen to them. There will be no sexual assault in my books, no hopeless situations (at least not for more than a few pages), no suffering children. This isn’t a moral stance – I’m not saying that dark themes shouldn’t be written, or that dark things shouldn’t be depicted, it’s just not the kind of stories I want to tell.

Will the questions raised ever be answered? YES. A thousand times yes.

If you remember the TV show Lost, it was a great show in many ways, but the writers had the habit of raising questions and mysteries that were never answered or explained. For example, a string of numbers appeared in many places with the implication that there was some connection, and there just… wasn’t. 

I will never do that to you. I promise. If a question is raised in my novels, there is an answer, I know what it is, and I will reveal it at some point. It might not be as soon as you’d like, but it’s there.

What about romance? My books might have plotlines about characters getting into romantic relationships, but they’re probably not really romances in the normal sense. Also, I’m not likely to put graphic depictions of sexual activity in my books—again, I’m not morally opposed to that sort of thing, just not what I want to write.

Are they good, though? That’s up to you to decide! I’ll say this much: I edited and revised these books to the best of my ability to make them at least as good as anything you’d buy from a major publisher. Whether I succeeded or not is up to you, but that was my goal.

I could say more, but you’d get a better understanding of what my books are like by reading them than by reading my description of them. I’m an author, not a marketing 


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