Friday, August 16, 2013
Fish Flavoured Dog Food
So today, as Cleo was finishing off a main course of stolen tomato and a desert of stolen banana, and I was standing at the top of the steps yelling “Do you want me to peel it for you first?” I got to thinking.
Fish flavoured dog food. Why does no such thing exist?
Why, when you buy cat food, can you buy lamb, or beef, or chicken, or fish, or any combination of the above...and you can buy most of that for dogs as well, but why is there no fish flavoured dog food?
Dogs love fish. More dogs love fish than love bananas or tomatoes, that's for sure. But we have these weird expectations -- thanks to marketing, and to habit -- that they don't. (Oh, you know dogs. They eat land-based animal products only. Everyone knows that. And never at all steal tomatoes or bananas either. It's absurd to suggest otherwise. You're drunk, go home.)
And did I mention that my sister's dog, Bylee, who also loves his apples, goes absolutely mad for lettuce? Because Cleo's crazy, but she's not that crazy.
And it got me thinking of what might happen if Roger...
...well, what if Roger, who is now working for a pet food company, tried to float the idea of fish flavoured dog food? Would it be too radical? Too crazy? Too out of the box?
Which got me thinking about writing. Because, let's face it, everything gets me there in the end.
Tom Stoppard wrote in Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, "Audiences know what to expect, and that is all they are prepared to believe in."
But maybe audiences only know what to expect, because that's all that we give them, over and over again. Romance, gotta have a happy ever after. Thriller, gotta have a chase. YA, gotta have that damned boy-girl-boy love triangle.
And it's a vicious circle. It sells, so it's what publishers want. So they publish more of it, and it sells, because that's all there is to buy...
I hit this wall with Romance all the time. And yes, most readers of Romance buy in the expectation of a happy ending. That's the product they want. But occasionally I read a review that's a bit different, a bit more interesting, and a hell of a lot incisive. "I would have liked it more," one reviewer wrote on GR of one of my books, "if they hadn't got a happy ending." And then she outlined an ending that, you guys, would have been fucking awesome. But I can promise you now, it would never have got past a publisher.
So is there where self publishing comes in? I mean, there is a lot of crap self published stuff out there. A lot. But there is also a lot of innovative stuff. A lot of crazy, brilliant, I-can't-believe-that-happened stuff. And, when we find it, it blows all our expectations away, and suddenly that same-same stuff that publishers push on us doesn't seem like quite enough any more.
Our appetites have been whetted. We want something more. You know what we want?
Fish flavoured dog food. Because why not, right?