Genre Hopping

Why don’t I write books like this?

I was perusing Freshly Pressed this evening when I came across a blog post that features an interesting question that I’ve never really thought about before, but also one that I want to explore. So, at the risk of being a copycat, I want to write on the same topic. Please forgive me if I delve into the forbidden with this one, but being a writer, I’m definitely a reader too. Funnily enough, when I was the adviser of a writing club in my previous life as a teacher, one of our days each month was spent discussing what we were reading. In a writer’s club. That’s a wonderful way to explore genres that we might not write.

From Nic Widhalm (“Should Writers Read Outside Their Genre?“)

Cormac McCarthy. Let’s start there. I write fantasy, specifically urban, and spend about 300% of my time (outside aardvark mating season) reading books by the heavyweights: Rothfuss, Martin, Sanderson, Weeks—I know, they’re all epic fantasy, hold on I’m getting there—De Lint, Harris, Gaiman, the list goes on. So imagine my surprise the first time I tipped my toe in the literary fiction pool, and grabbed some McCarthy.

This intrigued me to no end. First off, I write mystery for the most part, and some of my favorite authors also write mystery, like Dean Koontz, but I find myself reading romantic fiction from authors like Jane Green and Sophie Kinsella, and horror from Bentley Little as well. Add to that my penchant for checking out a non-fiction book every once in a while, and my love of a wide variety of fantasy and post-apocalyptic novels and there is a huge mix. I love what Nic said about that in his piece:

But if you haven’t read outside your favorite genre you may be unaware of the millions of different ways a story can be told. Sometimes all you need is an interesting character meeting another interesting character, and then one finds out they’re a burrowing-mammal half-breed addicted to cupcakes. Broccoli cupcakes.

I completely agree. As writers, I think we get so caught up in whatever genre we’re writing that we lose focus of all the things that make other types of writing special. One thing I admire about each and every one of my favorite authors is their ability to infuse so much more than just standard genre type into their stories. A story about vampires can also be a story about love (No, not Twilight, but I am on Team Edward). A tale of broccoli cupcakes can also be a murder-mystery adventure. And a memoir from a former president can help shape the way a character reacts to responsibility in my own recent novel.

Thank you, Nic, and thank you Freshly Pressed for getting this one right. It’s a fantastic topic, one that I think I’ll be delving even more into in the future. Now, back to my Curious George Anna Karenina book.


9 thoughts on “Genre Hopping

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  1. Wow. I’m honored that you chose to write about my blog post, Sam. You had some great insights there, and I especially like what you said about genre-mixing. No reason we can’t have urban fantasy/romance, or literary fiction/science fiction (Cloud Atlas, anyone?). I love your voice, and look forward to reading more of your work. Great post!

    1. Thanks, Nic. I never do something like that, so you know I must have been inspired. I would be interested in reading some of your urban fantasy work. I don’t generally write it myself, but I like your voice on your blog. So hook me up. Enjoy the blog, and thanks for following!

  2. Sophie Kinsella is my guilty pleasure. In general, I love British Chick Lit (but not American) and I am delighted by children’s fiction, which I find very hard to write. Of course, fiction in general is outside the scope of what I write these days.
    As Karen Swallow Prior would say: read promiscuously.
    I quite agree.

    1. Oh, I tried not to like Sophie Kinsella but I couldn’t help myself. Read promiscuously. I like that line. I think it definitely describes my reading habits to a T. 🙂

      1. Have you read Booked, by Karen Swallow Prior? You would get along well with her, I think 🙂

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