As even the slow kids can see by looking at this site, I write in more than one genre, and I use the same name – my name – to do so. The decision to not settle on a genre took a long time, and a few “settling” mishaps in which I nearly died inside. No, seriously, I’m not exaggerating. I really almost died, because in choosing a single genre to focus on, I felt like a vital part of my soul was being asked to shut the fuck up.
But what does that mean? Why should you care? You don’t have to, but I think it’s important to know how you’re going to approach your “brand” as a writer. Genre is a tricky bitch. You pick the wrong one, and you’re trapped in a horrible nightmare much like a bad marriage or a lover you just can’t shake. People like to jam you into your designated hole and you’re not supposed to leave or even consider visiting your neighbor’s hole. (You went there, didn’t you) So some authors attempt to write under a pen name, so that they can write in a new genre without the whispers and giggles from the peanut gallery. It’s sad, because they’re basically starting over again, when they should be able to use the name they worked damn hard to brand. It’d be cool if they could show the world they’ve got more than one flavor of goodness up their sleeves.
So, after much thought and almost going with a pen name for my paranormal romance fiction (which I’d like to add isn’t icky, squishy, fluffy romance, if that’s what you’re looking for), I said, “What a damn minute. Why would I do that? It’s not like the two genres are that different.” You see, there are elements in all of my writing that are the same. These elements would tie my work to my name no matter what genre label you want to slap on it. I think this is true of most writers.
I am fascinated by the paranormal. I like it all, but Greek mythology, in particular, tickles my muse. It’s got everything: immortality, gods, demons, nymphs/fairies, vampirism, zombie shit; all the paranormal. The sexy side of Greek mythology, which is pretty much all its sides, makes it a natural fit for romance.
I’m also fascinated by the real world, and how we say we’re good people, but what if we didn’t have to be? Would we still resist the urge to cut a throat or something equally illegal but less “go straight to hell” worthy? These stories don’t easily accept the paranormal, so they have to be straight crime/suspense-type fiction. There’s room for romance in them, but the tension is best when you let the romance be a seasoning rather than the entire meal.
My initial reviews for IN THE BONES included words like violence, profanity, sex, tension, and whatnot. That’s what every book I write contains to some degree. Sometimes one outweighs the rest, other times they’re there in equal measures. But these things are always there, no matter what genre I write.
I like tension. I love nail-biting anticipation. This can be accomplished many ways in fiction writing, so I can write in a dozen genres and still have tension or suspense as a major part of each story. I also like realistic dialogue. The folks I know use real words in a real way – and that includes words that aren’t polite. Even if they don’t actually say the words, they definitely think them from time to time. I try to be creative with my swears, allowing the words used suit the character. While they’re fun, f-bombs should be used sparingly, or they’ll lose their effect, so you have to find new ways of cursing or you’re no longer adding color. You’re just swearing.
I also include a romance of some kind. It might a minor part of the story, or it might be what the entire thing hinges on; depends on the story. But someone is loving someone else in my books in some way, even if that love happens one time or entirely in a character’simagination. Tied in with that romance is sex. Gotta have at least one sex scene. Maybe I’m a perv, but I like sex in my stories. It’s like the third dimension of three-dimensional characters for me. If they don’t at least imagine sex, I feel like they’re weird and incomplete.
And of course, there’s the violence. There’s at least one illegal, violent, cringe-worthy event, whether it’s a murder, a fight, a riot, the verbal tearing of a new asshole… something to get the blood boiling.
I’m kind of inappropriate for children.
I’m also told that no matter what I write, my voice is too obviously mine to successfully pull of anonymity with my “fans.” I don’t really have fans, but I have readers who enjoy reading for me, so that’s what I’m calling them because this is my blog and I wish to say “fans” instead of “readers” because it makes me feel important. You stop your judging.
What I’m curious about is how many others write in multiple genres using a single name? Do you? Are there major elements a reader would recognize in all of your work? What are those elements?
4 thoughts on “What’s Your Genre: Why Not Have Your Cake and Eat It because It’s Cake and You Should Always Eat Cake”
I’m glad you chose to stick to your name and not write under a pen name. It was a great pen name, but fuck it, you would have had to do all the pesky marketing work twice, and that’s definitely a pain in the ass.
I’ve written other things besides science-fiction—or rather BEFORE science-fiction—but I wouldn’t consider any of them my alternate genres. I really, morbidly enjoy psychological horror (especially movies), but would I ever consider dabbing into horror as my second genre? I doubt I could pull it off… not at the time… not while my head is full with futuristic technology and weird aliens and interstellar warfare… 😉
I never thought I could pull off romance, but it seems to be something I do well. So you never know…
Actually, you do have fans, Renée. You can count me as a fan–I’m really enjoying Jack’s story! Your character development through dialogue, both internal and external, is stellar! 🙂
Ah, thanks, Jeanne. 🙂