I'm happy to share a post by author A.B. Michaels, who tells us...
What’s Genre Fiction and Why is it So Important?
The term “genre fiction” often gets a bad rap; many uninformed people (aka snobs) think it’s a step below “real” literature. The truth is, quality has little to do with whether a book is classified as genre vs. literary fiction; in fact, I believe all fiction is genre-based—and thank goodness it is.
It started with the Greeks; the very first examples of western literature were divided into tragedy or comedy. As the written word expanded, it was further categorized as drama, poetry, fable, fairytale, etc. Once the printing press brought writing to the masses, it became even more important to divide what was being written into categories that readers could choose from. Today, whether you’re shopping online or in a brick and mortar bookstore, it’s crucial to differentiate genres or you’ll spend a lifetime wandering through the physical or virtual stacks trying to find what you’d like to read.
Separating books by genre is great because it helps me find the type of book I feel like reading on any given day—a preference that changes with my mood or circumstance. A story fits into a given genre because it meets the guidelines and expectations of that genre; essentially it’s a contract between reader and writer. For example, if I pick a mystery, I know there will be a puzzle to solve. With a romance, the main characters are going to have some relationship hurdles to climb before happily resolving their differences. Do I want to be scared? The horror writer will do his or her best to send chills down my spine.
Think of the fiction-reading universe as a giant pie, with each genre (and its corresponding target audience) making up a unique slice of that pie. In the old days of strictly traditional publishing, there weren’t that many slices, but the cool thing about the advent of Indie/online publishing is that now there are vastly more slices of pie to choose from. A genre can be truly niche (say, steampunk space romance featuring transgender protagonists). It may be a small slice, but it’s just as worthy of the marketplace as any other type of fiction.
I said above that I think all fiction—including literary—falls into one genre or another. Some writers joke that the hallmark of the literary genre is a novel that’s really difficult to read and has a sad ending! I wouldn’t go that far, but I will say that just about every classic literary novel falls into at least one genre, and sometimes more than one. Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace, for example, is literary, yes, but it’s also historical fiction and family saga all rolled into one.
Many publishing industry-watchers (including pundits from Writer’s Digest) believe the future of fiction lies in genre-blending, and I’m all for it, because I think more choice is better than less. Having said that, I do think writers need to remember the mantra of “Truth in Advertising” when they promote their particular work. It goes back to the contract between writer and reader. If I see a cartoon-like cover on a book with a “romcom” type of book blurb, I don’t expect to read about an axe murderer terrorizing a village. If the cover looks and sounds like a romance, it darn well better have a romance in it, and it better come with a happy ending! And if a story contains the elements of two or more genres, it ought to deliver on the expectations for all of them. That may sound like a no-brainer, but writers will often miss the mark with their marketing and lose sales because readers expect one type of read based on the cover and book description and get something else entirely.
Each of us is unique, and genre fiction enables us to find the kind of stories we want to read. As writers, whatever genre we write in, it’s important to understand reader expectations for that genre and fulfill that promise. Readers will let you know through customer reviews if you’ve let them down.
By the way, I write in the genres of romantic suspense (The Jade Hunters is the latest installment of my “Sinner’s Grove” series) and historical fiction. That series is called “The Golden City.” If you love reading those genres, you won’t be disappointed!
GENRE: Romantic Suspense
Award-winning jewelry designer Regina Firestone is proud to exhibit her famous grandmother’s multi-million dollar “bauble” collection at the grand re-opening of The Grove Center for American Art, known among the locals as “Sinner’s Grove.”
The fact that she’s considering modeling the jewels in the nude like her grandmother did infuriates photographer Walker Banks, a co-owner of The Grove who’s in charge of the exhibit. Neither is willing to admit the real reason for the sparks between them.
Their argument takes a back seat when Reggie discovers that one of the most compelling pieces in the collection is not at all what it seems. Tracking down the truth will take the couple into the dark heart of a quest that’s lasted more than a century, one in which destroying human lives—including Reggie’s and Walker’s—means nothing in the pursuit of a twisted sense of justice.
The Jade Hunters is Book Three of Michaels’ contemporary series, “Sinner’s Grove Suspense.” The series follows the descendants of characters introduced in Michaels’ historical fiction series, “The Golden City.”
By the time he made it to the room, Regina was standing at the opening of what looked like a submarine hatch. Of course. They were near the water. She was catching her breath and waiting for him.
“Come on,” she said. “She’s getting away.”
“Where does that lead?”
“To a cave,” she said. “It’s got to be an exit; otherwise they would have boarded it up.” She held out her hand. “Please, we can’t lose her. Let’s go.”
“I can’t,” he said.
“You can. Come on. We’re losing time!”
The panic that was never far away at times like this reared its ugly head. “I can’t do it. I told you I can’t handle small spaces. I can’t ...”
Regina placed her hands firmly on the sides of his face as she looked deep within him. “This is not a long cave; it can’t be, because it’s very close to the water and is subject to the tides.” She pointed to the other side of the hatch. “You can see the tide is coming in. We must go and I need your help. You have always been there for me and I know you’ll be there for me now. Just as I’m going to be there for you, every step of the way. I will not let you go, I promise.”
Walker stared at Regina’s beautiful, earnest face. It had all come down to this. It was too important for her to stop, and too dangerous to let her go on her own. She needed him, and he wasn’t going to let a crippling phobia stand in his way.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
A native of California, A.B. Michaels holds masters’ degrees in history (UCLA) and broadcasting (San Francisco State University). After working for many years as a promotional writer and editor, she turned to writing fiction, which is the hardest thing she's ever done besides raise two boys. She lives with her husband and two spoiled dogs in in Boise, Idaho, where she is often distracted by kayaking, playing bocce, and trying to hit a golf ball more than fifty yards. Reading and travel figure into the mix, leading her to hope that sometime soon, someone invents a 25+ hour day. Her historical fiction series, “The Golden City,” explores America’s Gilded Age and its effect on characters, both actual and fictional, while her contemporary series, “Sinner’s Grove Suspense,” follows descendants of The Golden City as they navigate today’s equally treacherous waters. She is currently expanding both series.
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