Crossing Genres: Writing Outside The Box


One day, my husband came home from work and greeted me with a with a laugh. He recounted how the teachers had been struggling on the first day of preschool with teaching the three and four-year olds the rules for walking in a line to the bathroom.

As we grow, we learn there are rules in almost every area of life and, if there are even rules for going to the bathroom, why should we be surprised to learn that there are rules for writing fiction? One well-established rule is to find a genre, learn the rules for that genre, and stick to them.
No one told me that rule until after my third book had been released. Since I was an independent author, I didn’t have a literary agent or publisher shaking their finger at me and saying, “No, no, no.” It wasn’t until a reviewer asked me what genre I was writing in that I realized there was an issue. I say “issue” because I never really considered it to be a problem.
I told her I wrote mysteries.
To this, she responded, “Is it a cozy? The amateur detective points to a cozy. But it’s too gritty to be a cozy. It reads like a police procedural. Yet, with the humor, it reads like a cozy.” She ended up declaring my books “gritty cozies.”
That was when I decided to dive deeper into this “issue” and discovered that my books are cross-genre—also known as a hybrid genre or genre mashing—a blending of themes and elements from two or more different genres.

This is really nothing new. Many authors have successfully blended more than one genre in their books: Stephen King - horror/fantasy/mystery; Alan Baxter - fantasy/horror/thriller; Terry Pratchett - fantasy/humor.
I was merrily breaking all sorts of rules of genres without knowing it. The rebel in me wanted to know who made up these rules and why do we need them.
As is often the case, the passage of time can lead many to forget the origin and reason behind the rules, but with a lot of Google searches, I finally discovered that genres and sub-genres were established by brick-and-mortar booksellers for organizational purposes, in order to know on what shelves to place the print books.

Read the entire article in the May 2018 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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