I’m going to admit that I haven’t done many things that are “typical”. I didn’t pretend not to be smart just to impress a boy. I didn’t sneak makeup in my book bag and put it on at school. And I never pilfered romance novels from my mother’s nightstand.
The first one no doubt had to do with being a middle child and always trying to prove myself to my older siblings. There was no way I was ever going to look dumb in front of them. And the second two things on the list were definitely influenced by Mom herself. My mom’s really pretty and I don’t remember her wearing makeup. So the whole thing was a non-issue in my house. There was no one saying I could or I couldn’t, so why rebel? The whole makeup thing seemed like a huge hassle in my opinion. And then there are the books. My mom was a reader. She took 4 and 5 books out of our little library every week and carried them home. She was pleased as punch when we picked one up and thumbed through it. I can’t say for sure when my love of reading began, but by the time I hit middle school I was reading adult books … including romances.
I’ve only been in the publishing world for six years this month (oh, happy anniversary to me!). Though it’s a relatively short time in the grand scheme of things, I think the past five years, heck, the last two even, have seen the publishing world change exponentially.
One of the things I find interesting is the discussions of genre. I’m not sure if it’s because more genres are popping up or if authors, looking to break into a highly competitive market, are mashing genres together and therefore defying a genre definition.
Let me first start by saying. I read romance. I write romance. I didn’t know that books (other than non-fiction) didn’t fall into that category. I know some readers who are surprised to find the book they’re reading is considered romance when it was shelved in the science fiction section. The fact is, romance is no longer just sweet contemporary and historical love stories. And there in lies the confusion.
This blog post was sparked by a discussion of what constitutes science fiction. In my opinion (which is what this blog is all about), science fiction stories deal with some imagined technology and its impact on the characters. These stories often, but not always, take place in the future, which means they can also be considered futuristic romances. Though for me, when defining my books, I tend to think of futuristic as specific to an alternate future, like Healer’s Garden. Whereas A Touch of Lilly, which also takes place in the future, but in another galaxy, I would consider science fiction.
Steampunk is a specific type of science fiction that is an alternate history rather than future. The stories involve a period in time when steampower was used. The science fiction is the fantastical weapons and machines powered by steam that the author creates. Think Wild, Wild West with Will Smith (*sigh*) and Kevin Kline.
Another umbrella term for genre especially popular today is the Paranormal category. Stories in this genre often blend and can easily be defined as one sub-genre or another. For me, the easily defined paranormal stories are those that involve vampires, zombies or shifters. My Shifting Bonds series falls into this category.
But … if a story includes faeries, gnomes or magic, then it’s defined as Fantasy romance. This sub-genre is further delineated by the term Urban Fantasy. These stories often are written in first person and take place in an urban setting, though it can be contemporary, historical or future time setting, the defining factor is the world created has magic and mysticism as part of the every day landscape. Urban fantasies however involve human characters with the powers rather than mystical creatures, though shifters, vampires and angels also play a role.
Of course once authors start blurring the lines between genres, mixing and matching as plots, settings and characters develop, more and more authors are having a hard time pigeon-holing their stories. This of course leaves the marketing departments of publishing houses with the difficulty of figuring out how best to market a book and where to shelve it in the bookstores. Which in turn, sometimes leaves readers stumbling around the bookstore trying to figure out how exactly to find their favorite author’s new book.
So, what do you think, did I hit the nail on the head or am I completely off the mark with my definitions? Leave me a comment. I’d like to know how you see this new genre confusion.