Virtual Book Tour: The Caves of Etretat by Matt Chatelain

This post is part of a Virtual Book Tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. The author is giving away a $20 Amazon GC to one randomly drawn commenter during the tour. Click on the banner to see his other stops and go leave comments on those as well as here. Remember, the more you comment, the better your chances of winning!

Before writing the Sirenne Saga four-book epic adventure, I owned and ran a used bookstore. I'd been in that business for more than twenty-five years and my concept of categories had been formed there. The reasoning used for such categories likely did not fit into any established or recognized categorization system.

When I started writing The Caves of Etretat six years ago, I used those categories to classify the genre of my book. I thought it was a historical mystery. Little did I know how wrong I was.

The problem began when I decided to send my first letter to my first agent. That was the day when my used bookstore system clashed with the real world. I discovered that historical mysteries were considered to be mysteries occurring during a specific period in history, not a mystery about history. So that classification was gone.

Was it even a mystery?

What was a mystery anyway? My used bookstore background insisted it was a bloodless murder that required solving by a sleuth of some sort. Research told me it was:

< 'A form of narration in which one or more elements remain unknown or unexplained until the end of the story.'

That was a relief, since the Sirenne Saga had endless elements that remained unexplained until the end. It was a mystery. The problem was the story was not just a mystery. I had no idea I was about to enter to dreaded world of cross-genre.

Apparently authors generally write books so that they fit into neat little categorization boxes. Why hadn't I known that when I began the series? As a result of my error, genring (is that a word? It ought to be, considering the time it took me to do it.) was becoming difficult, if not impossible.

Every time I tried to pin the books down to a specific category, they slipped away. I really liked the 'Thriller' genre and, if truth be told, I did brand it as a thriller series originally. My problem with it was its incompleteness, once again. Judge for yourself:

Thriller: a story intended to arouse feelings of excitement or suspense. (That's me.)Works in this genre are highly sensational, usually focusing on illegal activities, international espionage, sex and violence.(Not so much.)

Sure, the Sirenne Saga is sensational; there are illegal activities in it, some spying, some violence, even some sex. Unfortunately that wasn't enough. The story went beyond that. Then there was suspense. Check out what that definition is:

The elements of fiction that makes the reader uncertain about the outcome. Suspense can be created through almost any element of the story.

I knew my story had suspense. The Caves of Etretat was an exercise in creating it. Even when you finished, you still didn't have a clue what the outcome would be. Each subsequent book in the series only made it worse, bringing new levels you hadn't even thought of.

It wasn't science fiction either. There wasn't a single element of sci-fi in the story. Yet, for some reason, science fiction held a certain appeal, because those stories had a freedom similar to that found in the Sirenne Saga.

Action was another possibility. My series has a fair amount of action, although it does not compare to pure books in that genre. Then, one day, I came across Adventure and fell in love with it. Take a look at this little beauty of a definition:

A genre of fiction in which action is the key element, overshadowing characters, theme and setting.

In some ways, you could agree that my story is an adventure. It follows Paul Sirenne (the main character) through all his experiences, ultimately leading to the end of the world (don't worry, that's not the end, if there is such a thing. There's more, much more). If that's not an epic adventure, I don't know what is. My problem, of course is that the Sirenne Saga does not overshadow characters, theme and setting, with its action. The story is all about character in the end. It's about what makes a person do the things they do. In fact, the story is so twisty, that it turns just about every character you encounter into a key character. Can't tell you more than that, without spoiling things but you get the idea.

No category really fit. A real problem.

If I were to try and express 'The Sirenne Saga' genre, it would look something like this:

Action/Adventure/Thriller/Historical mystery/ suspense/mysticism

What? The mysticism? I know, I know, it's probably not even a category for fiction, but it's in there, so what can I do? Anyway, it doesn't matter. No one will let me classify my book like that. They want me to slot this rollercoaster of a story into a neat little box and I can't do it. I just can't. What happens is I'll give a different answer, depending on how I feel, or who I'm talking to.

I figure each person will pull out of the series what they need to. If they like action, it's an action story. If they like historical mysteries, it's got that too (mysteries about history, don't forget, not vice-versa). As for how it ends, it doesn't. Sorry, but there it is: Book Four just latches on to Book One and starts all over again.

Maybe it's not even a book. Is it a book without an ending?

I sure hope so. Otherwise, I've wasted six years of my life. Anyway, you judge for yourself. Read the series and figure out if I was right. While you're there, test out these wilds claims I make about my series:

1) When you finish the series, you will feel uplifted, floating above everything, looking at the world and everything in a new light (without becoming a cult member or anything). That'll be the mysticism bit doing its job.

2) After reading Book Four, you can read Book One and it will have become a different story.

3) There is a final revelation hidden in Book One that can only be found through the re-read. What do you think it is?

Go to my to find out more about my books and to sign up for a free signed book contest. While you're there, let me know what category you think I should be slotted in. By the by, Book Two (The Four Books of Etretat) is out. Books Three and Four should be out by August 2012. I'm putting them all out within one year. So no waiting to read the series. Another first. Darn.

About the Author:
Born in Ottawa, fifty-two years ago, I have been the owner of a used bookstore I opened in Ontario, since 1990. I have been writing since I was ten. Beginning with poetry, I quickly moved on to short stories and non-fiction pieces. I stayed in that format for many years, eventually self-publishing a franchise manual (How to Open Your Own Used Bookstore), as well as a variety of booklets, such as 'How to Save Money at Home', 'Build a Greenhouse with Style' and the ten booklet series of Eddy Brock, Brockville Detective.

Having semi-retired from the bookstore, I embarked on the project of writing my first serious novel, which I expanded to a four book series after discovering an incredible mystery hidden within Maurice Leblanc's books.

My interests are eclectic. I like Quantum Physics, Cosmology, history, archaeology, science in general, mechanics, free power, recycling and re-use. I'm a good handyman and can usually fix just about anything. I'm good with computers. I love movies, both good and bad, preferring action and war movies. I can draw and paint fairly well but am so obsessed with perspective and light that I cannot think of much else. I am too detail oriented. Takes too long to finish anything.

Facebook page:!/profile.php?id=100003486781507

In 2007, Canadian bookstore owner Paul Sirenne is suddenly thrust into a quest for answers, when his parents are found brutally murdered, their bodies cut up and shaped into the letters H.N. Finding a note inside his father's copy of The Hollow Needle by Maurice Leblanc, Sirenne is determined to uncover the roots of his long-forgotten family secret.

He heads to the town of Etretat, France, on the trail of a hundred year old mystery hidden in the pages of the Hollow Needle. Falling in love with Leblanc's great-granddaughter, he deals with puzzles, theories, codes and historical mysteries, leading him to believe that Leblanc held a secret war against Adolf Hitler, fighting for the control of an incredible complex of caves hidden in Etretat's chalk cliffs.

The Caves of Etretat is the first in a four-book epic adventure following Paul Sirenne, an average man unknowingly manipulated into becoming the key in the final phase of a complex conspiracy spanning millennia. Inextricably woven into history, the series re-writes everything we know in a non-stop rollercoaster of a ride where nothing is ever as it seems.


Mary Preston said…
I find that in truth very few books DON'T jump genres. It would be difficult to pin some down. I guess that is why more & more we come across sub-genres.

Thank you for hosting Matt today.
MomJane said…
What an interesting tour this has become. I love the sound of this series. It really intigues me.
Thank you both for your comments.
Anonymous said…
I never realized that firsthand bookstore retail knowledge would complicate your writing and marketing that way! Interesting...