August 16, 2016
“So, what do you write?” That’s pretty much the first question I’m asked when I mention I’m an author. You’d think it’d be easy to answer, but pegging a genre isn’t always straightforward. Is a mystery set in the early 1900s with a central love story considered a mystery or an historical romance? What makes a story a romantic fantasy vs. a fantasy with romantic elements? What defines fantasy vs. horror?
Kingston is host to an annual summer literary event for genre writers and readers called the Limestone Genre Expo. It’s a busy 2 days with workshops, readings, and panel discussions with local and guest authors in mystery, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and romance genres. Quite the spectrum!
This year, I offered to volunteer and as a result was lucky enough to catch 2 panel discussions – Where is Fantasy taking the modern reader? and Modus Operandi – From Cozies to Private Eyes. And the topic of pegging a book into a genre came up in both panels.
There are some commonalities that define a genre – like romance novels with their happily-ever-after endings. One author joked that the big difference in the spectrum of horror to fantasy is really in the ending. Fantasy saves more lives! Another author commented how horror stories start out with everyday life events in an ordinary setting and then feed on the fantastical. Tanya Huff pointed out how romance and horror have essentially the same plot lines – a beat with emotion, then a beat and bigger emotion, building to a beat with a climax. Then everyone has a cigarette. There’s just less viscera in romance. Haha. Mystery stories aren’t always about solving a crime. And like romance, they range from historical to contemporary and horror to comedy. Cozy mysteries are a growing genre featuring amateur sleuths solving murders with a cast of characters as suspects. Or as Violette Malan calls them – Agatha crispies because you can read them at breakfast.
Whatever the genre, most authors agreed that labelling the story matters more for booksellers, librarians, and readers because they look for the consistent elements when they chose a book. As authors, we just write the story and hope it fits into a genre that people want to read!
What’s your favourite genre?
Linda O’Connor writes romantic comedies, sometimes referred to as contemporary romance with humour, and a little inspirational romance thrown into the mix. 😀 If that’s a genre that interests you, here’s a bit about Perfectly Unpredictable, Book 4 in the Perfectly Series.
Kalia Beck always dreamed of starting a family, living in a house with a white picket fence, and finding her soul mate. Just not in that order. Kalia is coping with an unplanned pregnancy when she learns the father has passed away. She soon finds out that single parenthood isn’t easy, especially when the only thing that soothes the baby is the guitar-playing of a reluctant and reclusive next-door neighbor.
Mack Challen, lead guitarist in a rock and roll band, knows it takes a village to raise a child. He just doesn’t think there’s a village big enough to help “gay momma” and her screaming baby.
Kalia and Mack aren’t looking for love and aren’t ready for each other, but when the future unfolds, it’s … Perfectly Unpredictable.