Sunday, May 30, 2010

Writing Across Genres

I'm a straight up contemporary romance kind of gal. It's my skill set. People talk. They have daddy issues or mommy issues. There's some sexual tension. A kid hanging around. Totally vanilla.

Somehow I've thrown my hat in with people who want to cross-pollinate their genres. They want to mix historical with fantasy. Paranormal with suspense. Their tastes run purely down the middle of sub-genres. Taking the best of all worlds and trying to create something totally new. I can't tell you how I admire their thinking. Envy their creative freedom. It takes some guts - because more often than not the rejections come in with things like: "we just don't know how to market this" or worse "we just don't know where this would be shelved."

We all understand this - publishers have to sell books and if they can't figure out how to sell a book, it serves no one.

But what I think this writing across genres does is allow the writer to bust wide open. It's huge or it's nothing. There's no middle. The publisher doesn't worry about where to shelve you because you have a table to yourself in the front.

But I think what it takes to be huge going this route, is a story so pure and a world so simple that nothing trips the reader/editor/agent up. They have to believe they are in good hands, confident hands that are attached to a brain that has thought everything out. Things can't be complicated when walking the line between genres. It boils down to the whole reason we love reading and writing - characters in conflict. Big odds. Huge stakes. Human emotions. And most importantly, the unexpected.

What cross-pollinators do you love? Susan Squires comes to mind. Hunger Games, of course. I'm not sure what it crossed, but it feels so fresh it has to be something new. I feel like Eileen brought a bright ray of light to urban fantasy, which was new and needed. What else?

7 comments:

Molly O'Keefe said...

I thought of another one last night while my son was up crying from leg cramps...growing pains or a budding drama queen, not sure which. Anyway - Elizabeth Peters - those awesome hisorical romantic mysteries set in Egypt...Deanna Raybourne is keeping that niche warm now.

Sinead M said...

Good examples, I like the poison study series, they're a nice blend between fantasy and urban fantasy.

To me the straight contemporary would be the hardest to write. Everything relies on how well the characters are written without a flashy plot to distract the reader..

I couldn't do it.

Maureen McGowan said...

Great post, Molly. Although you could have just said, I've thrown myself in with people who are INSANE AND DETERMINED NOT TO BE PUBLISHED!!! LOL.

I'm trying to think what some of the recent books I loved combined... because I do tend to love the ones that either transcend genre, or do the genre so well, you forget you're reading genre fiction.

Forest of Hands and Teeth was a mash up of romance and horror and because of the post-apocalyptic side of it, also sci-fi, I guess. Same with Hunger Games.

I think Chevy Stevens combines a psychological drama with suspense/thriller in STILL MISSING. So not like most thrillers. At all.

And like Sinead, I so admire your ability to write fabulous contemporary romance. So, so hard. I think I've proved I can't do it.

Anonymous said...

Hi Molly,

Nice website! It's cool looking, not frenzied, like...like...an author who promises a good read regardless of what she writes :)

Susanne

Simone said...

Well, Steampunk is a cross genre thing, right? So cross genre that people who write it have to explain it over and over.

Oh, and I swear that commenter above is not me. lol.

Molly O'Keefe said...

Steam Punk is a perfect example - but you're right it has to keep explaining itself and when that happens, something gets lost. Readers get removed from the story.

I am late to the game with Laurell K. Hamiliton - but I stayed up too late reading her first book and there you go. Classic example of sewing two genres together into something new. It's so good. And she explains nothing...truly, I'm hooked.

this means I am gong to have to watch Vampire Diaries...damn you.

Molly O'Keefe said...

Susanne my website is awesome! You're right - thank you. OR rather, Thank Simone.

Next week I'm going to do an official launch with ice cream and cupcakes...for me, anyway.

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