Cross Genre – Everyone’s doing it!

(Note:  I was away from the computer most of yesterday and didn’t see that Rowena’s post didn’t go live.  So I’m putting it up now and will be back to put up my own post around noon CST — Amanda)

This weekend I’m at the crime writers convention in Melbourne. SheKilda. This is run by Sisters in Crime, the Australian branch of an international organisation. My para-crime (no sparkly vampires, I promise) is coming out next March with ClanDestine Press.

I ‘ve written books for five year-olds through to young adult books. They’ve been faction (fact dressed up as story to convey information) and every other fiction genre I can think of.

My short stories have covered near future sociological SF, through horror (now called Dark Fantasy), steampunk (before I knew it was called that) to fantasy. Funnily enough, I don’t write much fantasy in the short story form.

My published books adults have all been fantasy, until now. Not that I haven’t written other books. I have two SF novels based around mysteries.

In the past publishers tended to like you to write in the one genre so they could retain your readers. I don’t know why they thought readers only read in one genre, because from what I’ve heard people say, they read widely and will follow an author they like across different genres.

I’ve been doing a series of interviews with authors on my blog and many of them write across age groups and/or across genres, even across mediums. Rebecca Moesta has written across ages and genres and, with the publication of the comic, Grumpy old Monsters, across mediums. She says: ‘For a writer, there’s a exceptional joy that comes from seeing a story that I wrote come to life in illustrations.’

Sean Williams writes tie-in novels, like Rebecca, books for YA and adults, and across the fantasy and SF genres.  When talking about writing for YA he says: ‘ I’ve written eight books for kids and four for young adults, and I’d have to say that I find the YA mindset much more difficult. I like to write characters who see the world through a fairly rational lens, and of course being a teenager isn’t really about being rational. That’s one of the reasons why it’s such a wonderful, terrifying time, and why it’s such a rich vein to mine, creatively speaking. I’m drawn to doing difficult things–each book is a new challenge–hence my focus on YA in my solo work at the moment.’

Tracey O’Hara‘s books are marketed as paranormal, but they contain a strong element of mystery/thriller. She says: ‘I loved the Arthur Upfield, Napoleon Bonaparte (Boney) books when I was a teenager and I’m a big Agatha Christy fan, however mainly the TV series and movies rather than the books which I sometimes find a bit tedious.’

And then there’s Trent Jamieson, who has a humourous dark fantasy in Death Works and is now releasing a steampunk duology The Nightbound Land. Trent would have to be the cross-genre king. His short stories are particularly hard to define. He’s won both the SF and YA sections of the Aurealis Awards and been nominated in the fantasy section (often for the same story). He says: ‘I like to mess around in various genres. Believe it or not, my first published works were nonsense poems. But I don’t set out to write in a specific genre. Stories start as either a particular image, or a weird sentence or even a beat, I just follow the pulse to end.’

I’m happy to see my para-crime finally reach and audience. Like the authors mentioned, the story takes me and I just have to write it. I find it is the themes that can be similar across different genres, some genres give a writer more freedom than others. Some have great tropes and toys to play with that might suit a particular idea. Who doesn’t like a steamship dirigible!

Do you write across genres? What draws you to other genres?

6 Comments

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6 responses to “Cross Genre – Everyone’s doing it!

  1. Sorry about that, guys. I thought I’d put in the right date and time for the post to go live for Saturday.

    Gaaaah!

    Just got back home. The Crime writers conerence was filled with really good examples of people crossing genres to write a good book that transcended genre!

  2. Some times I tackle something different for the challenge, some times a really different sort of story just demands to be written. I started with near future space opera, skidded into fantasy, then YA fantasy, dark fantasy (refuses to be properly dark!), mysteries and spy thrillers all in a cross genre space opera/fantasy, and recently got bit by a YA cyber punk.

    • Pam, that’s what the speakers on the cross-genre panel were saying. The story dictates what genre it needs to be told in.

      • Yeah, the genres limit, allow and expect certain things, and some stories can only happen in certain ways, and sometimes that requires a mixing of the standard genre tropes. If it’s trying to be a science fiction story, the magic has to be explained scientifically. Mutation. Genetic engineering. Space Alien hybridization. The Fantasy Murder Mystery has to be solved with magic, and was probably caused by it as well.

        I think, because of this cross sub-genre work, a lot of the sub-genres are merging, or influencing each other. So Amanada has to keep saying she’s writing Urban Fantasy, not Paranormal Romance, Dark Fantasy or . . . Because the writers cross the boundaries, and the readers (and editors) are loosing track of the distinctive characters of each.

        Which isn’t really bad. A romance with unexpected turns, werewolves who have to obey the law or the cops will get them. Surprised readers are often happy readers, and since they have always crossed genres in their reading, I doubt they’ll mind too much seeing these blends within single books.

    • I do like a book that surprises me!

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