Cross Fertilisation of Genres

Or are Hybrids Hardier?

Tara Moss, Narelle Harris, PD Martin, Alison Goodman, Marianne Delacourt (And Kim Westwood who turned up late after I took the picture)

I was at the SheKilda crime convention a couple of weeks ago and attended this panel on Cross Genre Writing. It is amazing how many speculative fiction writers also write mysteries. Or you could say, how many crime and mystery writers include a bit of the paranormal in their books.

With plants and animals, if you cross breed the off-spring are hardier. If you keep inbreeding the off-spring develop weaknesses. Not sure if the analogy holds true for books.

The panel talked about whether their die-hard (sorry for the pun) crime and mystery readers were turned off by the paranormal element. For some of them like PD Martin the paranormal element was very slight while, for others, it was a major factor in the plot and world building. They all agreed that it was the story itself that dictated whether to include a paranormal element.

Everyone enjoys a good mystery. Asimov was writing SF-mysteries when he coined the Three Laws of Robotics. Each of the Harry Potter books is based around a mystery (or at least they were when I was reading them to my kids. We stopped after number 3 or 4).

Do you think that combining elements from the mystery genre with the speculative fiction genre makes for a hardier hybrid?





8 thoughts on “Cross Fertilisation of Genres

  1. Spec fic is almost a definition of the imagined universe. Inside that universe, there’s got to be a story. It can be an adventure, a war story, a romance, or a mystery, they’re all good. 😉

    Now turning that around, does adding a speculative element to a mystery make it hardier? Or does it just turn it into mis-shelved SF? I really do like a touch of the eerie, but like _The Hound of the Baskervilles_ is it better once it’s explained or should the possibility of the paranormal remain?

    Mystery, like romance, is a definition of the type of story, no commitment to the world it’s in. If you can write one in the past, why not the future? If you can create a monstrous killer, does it have to be strictly human? How far can the mystery writer go without getting relabeled, and is that a bad thing?

  2. I think mysteries with fantastic elements can work very well. See, for example Richard Kadrey’s Sandman Slim books…hard boiled detective fiction mixed with fantasy.

  3. I personally like a mystery element, but isn’t down to personal taste? I don’t know enough about what is working in terms of market niches to say whether the cross-breeds have the legs or not.

      1. You know, all the tags on e-books are going to help, I think. Because the tags are like shelving in a bookstore.

        “I feel like reading a mystery today. Hard boiled detective or police procedural?” and the search of the tags instead of going to the mystery shelves in the bookstore can turn up Amanda’s Nocturnal Origins or Larry Correia’s Hard Magic. Neither of which would ever be shelved in the Mystery section.

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