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Thursday, September 04, 2014

Speak To Me Not of Genre


Of all the things you have to do to publish a book, choosing a genre is the hardest part. In fact, the very word strikes fear into my heart.

My books are a little bit of a lot of things but not enough of any one thing to call it that. They contain romance (quite non-traditional) and a bit of paranormal and a tad of mystery and some adventure, all sort of thrown together in a genre stew.

I cannot seem to conform enough to slot myself into any of the genre labels. My second book was meant to be a romance. I was determined to follow the guidelines and produce something salable. I'd watched my former student, Liz Flaherty, do it extremely well. She writes great books and gets them published. Damn, I taught her a few little things. Now I'd learn from her. But it didn't work.

Sticks and Carrots turned out to be a romance in the end but only after it wandered far from the acceptable bounds of romance publisher rules.

Another former student I'm in touch with recently told me that he's been publishing erotica. "They practically sell themselves," he said. It's for sure none of my books would ever earn a PG rating. They sometimes deal with taboo subjects and they are quite graphic but they aren't single-minded enough to be considered erotica, not like 50 Shades of Gray in which the sex was the whole point.

My heroes are never quite heroes. They aren't saved by love. They aren't redeemed by honor or patriotism which makes their lawlessness acceptable. And they aren't vampires or werewolves.

I have written eight books in the Rafe Vincennes series. A fan once told me, "there is nobody else in fiction like Rafe." I took that as compliment. But when an editor once asked me what other character I'd liken Rafe to, I gave him the same answer.

"Hmmm," he responded, "that's a problem."

Yes, for me, genre is a problem.

1 comment:

Liz Flaherty said...

It's hard--even if you ARE a genre writer and you know it. Sometimes the lines just get so skewed that the idea of coloring within them is ludicrous.

Thanks for the shout-out. This is an industry that requires confidence in your work (though not in yourself), and you helped give me that.