[Scene: The former Bortsworth Tea Room which has recently been refurbished as the BEAN!BEAN!BOOM! Coffee Salon. Timothy the Talking Cat is putting the finishing touches to his latest masterpiece.]
[Barista] Here you go, your single-origin extra-froth lactose-free frappelatteccino with fish pellet sprinkles.
[Timothy] Than you my good sir, could you please decant it into this saucer?
[Barista] Of course! [pours the beverage onto an oversized dinner plate with ‘World’s Best Mom’ written on it. As he does so the barista notes Timothy’s paperwork scattered around the artfully distressed recycled timber table top] Ohh, are you a writer?
[Timothy] Not merely a writer. I am an editor, publisher and public intellectual. However, I find that at times I must ground myself within the literary arts to commune with my muse and once again connect with the deep springs of creativity.
[Barista] And you use crayon?
[Timothy] Black crayon for regular words, blue for hyperlinks and this bad boy [holds up a red crayon] for drawing squiggly lines under spelling mistakes.
[Barista] And the green crayon?
[Timothy] Level three headings in outline view: sans-serif italic pt 16 Green.
[Barista] Nice. Do you have many of those?
[Timothy] Mainly in space battles when explaining which missiles hit which ship.
[Barista] Science fiction?
[Timothy] Regency Romance.
[Timothy] Indeed. Steve Austin’s literary works are second only to his career as a surprisingly cheaply made 1970s cyborg superhero.
[Just then the front door of BEAN!BEAN!BOOM! busrts open and in strides a burly man in a law enforcement uniform and mirror shades.]
[Generic coffee shop customer] Scarper! It’s the genre police!
[Several over caffeinated writers who have been exploiting the free wi-fi slap their chrome books shut and make for the back exit. Only to be confronted by a second officer even bigger and burlier than the first.]
[Cop 1] Freeze you no-good hacks. We’ve got a call about serious genre infringement in this bordello of bad writing. I should drag all of you no good KU-junkies down to the holding cells until you confess your crimes but my partner doesn’t what me to get written up AGAIN for unnecessary brutality against the literary profession.
[Cop 2] Yeah. I hates the paperwork. [He picks a toothpick off the counter, chews it slightly and then grabs a few more and just crunches down on them, finally swallows them as a big splintery mass.]
[Cop 1] So if you all co-operate and turn over the miscreant we can be on our way and leave you to you…”activities”.
[As one, all of the writers in the coffee shop point at Timothy.]
[Timothy] Oh! The nerve of it! Just because I published that op-ed saying that ‘authors are lazy scum and frankly my publishing house would be better off without them’, is no reason for you all to betray me! What happened to reasoned debate and a frank but fair difference of opinion!
[Cop 1, striding over] Let’s have a look see, shall we? Hmm, space battles, stately homes, marriage proposals? Let me guess…Regency Romance/Space Opera?
[Timothy] Yes and that’s a perfectly valid sub-sub-sub-category. Look, here is my Amazon licence which authorises me to author in said sub-sub-sub-category.
[Cop 1] But what’s THIS? [Cop 1 holds up a frappelatteccino stained ruled A4 writing pad marked “Detective Bob interrogates his first witness in the drawing room.”
[Timothy] What about it? Detective Bob LIKES drawing when he investigates.
[Cop 1] But did you SIGNAL?
[Cop 1] SIGGGGG- NALLLL
[Timothy] Signal what!
[Cop 1] Signal that you Regency Romance/Space Opera would make a sharp left turn into Regency Romance/Sci-Fi Cozy Mystery?
[Timothy] It was just one chapter!
[Cop 1 getting right in Timothy’s face and stabbing his big cop finger into the A4 writing pad] That. Only. Makes. It. Worse.
[Cop 1 addressing the room] We live in chaotic times people. Lawless times. Good people want rules, order, predictability. You know what happens when they DON’T get predictability?
[Cop 2] Anarchy.
[Cop 1] That’s right. Anarchy. We have genre categories for a reason people. We have them so good hard working folk, who just want to consume hastily written fiction can FIND what they hanker for without any nasty surprises.
[Cop 2] Good folk, like my mom.
[Cop 1] That’s right, like his mom. We only ask ONE thing from you scum, you worthless monsters. We just ask ONE thing, that you SIGNAL YOUR GENRE and that once signalled you cleave strictly to the tropes of your genre never ONCE wavering from the correct path.
[Cop 2] Not asking a lot.
[Cop 1] Not asking a lot at all. You just need to have your cover CORRECT and your tropes IN LINE and we’ll leave you alone. But if you don’t…
[Cop 2]…if you don’t….
[Cop 1]…oh boy, if you DON’T then…
[Timothy] THEN WHAT! WHAT WILL YOU DO! I’M TOO FELINE TO GO TO PRISON AND BE ADOPTED AS A PRISON CAT AND CHARM THE WARDEN AND HELP THE INMATES RECONNECT WITH THEIR SENSITIVE SIDE ENABLING THEM TO LIVE PRODUCTIVE LIVES AFTER THEY GET PAROLE!
[Cop 1] Then we will WRITE VERY MEAN THINGS ABOUT YOU ON OUR DEPARTMENT FACEBOOK PAGE!
[Cop 1] I knew you’d hate that.
[Timothy] What? No, I was just reading a line of dialogue from when Detective Bob interrogates Chiseled McEdifice.
[Cop 1] Wait? Are you the cat who writes Chiseled McEdifice?
[Timothy beam proudly] The one and only.
[Cop 2] He’s our favourite!
[Cop 1] In that case we’ll let you go with a warning.
[Just then the actual Bortsworth Police arrive and arrest Cop 1 and Cop 2 for unnecessary boot kicking of a front door]