Originally posted on :http://www.theblessedbarrenness.co.za/?p=9675 – 31.07.2014
I find that many people are surprised when they read The Legacy Trilogy after reading Rainfall, given that the two genres are so different. As a writer, there is always the concern when shifting the proverbial “genre-gear” that your latest offering may fall short of what your readers have come to expect.
As authors, we have to live up to a lot of expectation from our readers, and we love to rise to the challenge. The only point of contention that I have with expectation is what I like to call “genre-specifics” – a trend where readers seem to prefer books written by a single author to be in the same genre. Of course, it is also often the case that readers simply have their own preferred genre and if a book does not fit this criterion, they are not going to be predisposed to reading it.
The Legacy Trilogy is a dystopian action adventure series, whereas Rainfall is a contemporary romance with a psychological twist. The Traveler, on the other hand, is a paranormal romance. Although the genres are very different, there are certain elements that are consistent throughout: romance, intrigue and a story that moves fairly quickly. My writing style is mine alone – as is any author’s. Take J.K. Rowling, for example. It didn’t take long for people to recognise her flair and call her bluff on the Robert Galbraith pseudonym.
Even broad-based fiction readers, who read across a broad spectrum of genres, are often hesitant to purchase books by an author they love if the new release is not the genre they have come to expect from that author. Take ‘The Casual Vacancy’ released in 2012, which was J.K. Rowling’s first release since the ‘Harry Potter’ series and her first novel aimed at an adult readership. Rowling took a lot of criticism from people who were expecting another ‘Harry Potter’. In 2013, Rowling’s latest offering, ‘The Cuckoo’s Calling’ was released under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith. After being discovered, Rowling stated: “Being Robert Galbraith has been such a liberating experience… It has been wonderful to publish without hype and expectation and pure pleasure to get feedback under a different name.”
Romance novelist Nora Roberts has also found a solution that works well for her: she writes under the pseudonym J.D. Robb for the “In Death” series, allowing her to distance this project from her traditional romance books.
Writer’s write, it’s what we do and any writer worth their salt can write anything. Journalists are proof of this – a journalist writes about a diverse array of subjects, but their creative talent shines through in each piece – if they are any good at it.
Novelists are not so fortunate – writing full-length novels is time-consuming and a massive investment. We need to make sure that we have a readership, and that we retain that readership, but every so often we like to challenge ourselves. I think that “genre-shifting” is much like taking your inner writer and giving him/her a good shake – dusting off the cobwebs and the literary stagnation – and energising your creative mind.
I have been very fortunate in that my books have been well-received, regardless of where the genre falls. Then again, I am not quite as “high-profile” as J.K. Rowling, and thus not yet so harshly judged.
At the end of the day, I love what I do. And it is a story that inspires me – not the genre it may fall into. I write the stories that are, to my mind, exceptional, and let them fall where they may, genre be damned. And as long as there is a single reader out there who is anxiously awaiting another book from me, I will continue to do my utmost to impress them.