Monday, May 27, 2013

The Genre Dilemma

Imagine going into a bookstore or library with no clearly-defined sections. The task of locating a book you like would take on nightmarish proportions. Books, music, and many other art forms are broken down into genres, so we can locate the type of reading material we love.

When I began writing The Moses Conspiracy, genre didn't enter my mind. All I knew was I had a novel to write. After a few years of dealing with craft issues, I started hearing things like, "What genre is this?"

Editors and agents all had an opinion. To my horror, one person labeled it, "Sci-Fi." This genre evoked scenes with aliens and spaceships, which definitely did not fit my book.

Others labeled it, "political, futuristic, or fantasy." I decided if anyone was going to categorize this book it was going to be me. So, I began presenting it as Christian Speculative Fiction because it takes place in 2025 and presented a what-if scenario.

The problem with this designation was the staggering number of sub-genres under it. My publisher decided to label it futuristic/fantasy for the various outlets.

In fact, The Moses Conspiracy is a cross-genre work. It's futuristic, but also suspenseful. It's a mystery and has some Amish characters. In my opinion, a lot of people could relate to this book and enjoy the various elements.

Let's face it, our lives are not segmented into genres. People interact with various ethnic groups and face challenging life situations. It's one reason I read many genres. Think about all those new synapses growing in my brain when I open to different reading material.

I'm curious. What are your thoughts about reading/writing different genres or cross-genre works?


Karen Lange said...

I don't mind reading books that cross genres (like yours:). It seems authors are mixing it up more these days. I think this is a good thing in many ways, for it can appeal to wider audience and whatnot.

Happy Memorial Day!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Karen -

I agree that mixing it up appeals to a wider audience.

A die-hard Amish reader informed me she loved my book and is waiting for the second one. Yet, my book is far from a traditional Amish story.

Happy Memorial Day,
Susan :)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Susan .. I haven't read enough cross-genres, but I do occasionally pick books with a mixed subject base ... I must read bloggers books - as they cross all lines. We learn so much ..

Your description of finding your niche is interesting and I'm sure it fits exactly where you've put it ..

On this Memorial Day blessings to all ... Hilary

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Hilary -

Your blog is quite eclectic, which attracts a lot of people. I'm hoping my cross-genre book will achieve the level of popularity you've seen with your blog.

Susan :)

DenaNetherton said...

I wish there were more cross-genre books out there. I'm tired of the same old strictured genres. More and more readers are gravitating to ebooks to find their cross-genre fulfillment!

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Dena -

I agree! Books are becoming too predictable. When I can figure out all the endings, it takes away the anticipation factor.

Susan :)

Rhonda Schrock said...

Yours is certainly unusual. I'm curious as to what folks are saying about that. Very different to mix Amish fiction with a futuristic setting!

Jeanette Levellie said...

I have no problem with crossing genres, as long as the story is compelling and the characters believable. I don't like labels, anyway, so mixing genres is fine with me!

Diane Estrella said...

I am not a one-genre only kind of gal. I don't mind if things cross over as long as the story is great. :o)

Nancy said...

Hi Susan - I agree that it's difficult to put some plot ideas into genres. I love that you have lots of them floating around in your book. Some of my favorite books: example - To Kill a Mockingbird and Peace Like a River just don't fit tightly. I feel that anything too "regular" can't be a great book.

I love your new look.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Rhonda - Without giving too much away, I chose Bird-in-Hand as the main setting because it's a popular tourist area. This gave Christians more freedom than other areas in my future world.

Hi Jen - Yes, story is the critical issue. I don't mix genres for the sake of doing it. There must be a reason (which I stated above).

Hi Diane - Neither am I! It's far more interesting when things don't follow a set pattern.

Hi Nancy - Traci Little did the blog. I'm so happy with her work and highly recommend her. She made every effort to get it just right.

I think something you described stands out from the crowd.

Susan :)

Jennifer Shirk said...

I've seen a lot of authors mixing it up too. I kind of like that.

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jennifer -

Maybe I'm on the cutting edge of a new trend. :)