Monday, April 25, 2011

Those genre-mashing indies!

I'm fascinated by a new trend I'm seeing lately. It's not 99 cent books or the comeback of short stories and novellas. Although those are exciting developments, there's something else that tickles my fancy: The genre-bending that's beginning to make fiction look like a carnival crazy house of distorting mirrors.

Will reader expectations change when they pick up what appears, at first blush, to be a western and they get a cozy mystery in the bargain? Camille LaGuire's Have Gun Will Play comes to mind. Philip Chen sorts his Falling Star into a genre he calls "potpourri", as it has thriller, mystery, and science fiction elements. Sibel Hodge calls her popular book, Fourteen Days Later, a "romantic comedy mystery."

Are you familiar with other genre-crossing books? Have you written one? Will indies drive traditional publishing to accept new forms that don't fit into the usual established categories?


Bob Mayer: "I tried to invent a new genre: techno-myth with my Area 51 and Atlantis series. Area 51 ended up getting racked in science fiction and Atlantis maintstream. But basically taking a myth-- whether ancient like Atlantis, or modern, like Area 51, and writing a thriller around it. Both seem to have worked as Area 51 sold 1.4 million copies-- and just got reversion on them TODAY, so they will be up in ebook soon, and Atlantis has now been in top 30 in science fiction on Kindle for two months."

Joseph Gellene states that Convergence has mystery/thriller elements mixed in with time travel.

Nell Gavins' Threads: The Reincarnation of Anne Boleyn. Genres: Visionary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Paranormal Fantasy, Historical Fantasy, Metaphysical Fiction, Literary Fiction.

Chris Truscott: Stumbling Forward and A Referendum on Conscience. "My books are political fiction. Both have romance elements and the first also has some dark comedy. (The second has a little in the way of dark comedy, but you really have to look for it.)"

Die$sel describes his latest work: "I recently wrote my first novella and attempted to create an experimental, new style of writing drawn from watching too much Japanese anime, which I call "ethereal absurdism." It combines very lyrical and rhythmic prose with an always moving/changing atmosphere and absurdist humor/characterization/plots to create a very surreal, but still grounded piece of work."

Maria Hooley has a fantasy-horror-thriller mix in The River.

Karen Nilsen's series combines historical fantasy, family saga, and gothic romance.

Christian YoungMiller describes all his books, except his latest, Fixing Cupid, as genre-mixed.

C.R. Hindmarsh describes his work: "The Converted is a bit of a genre-masher. It's fantasy (but with no magic) with a fair helping of biopunk and a dash of steampunk sensibilities for good measure. It's dark and gritty, but also not without some subtle humor."

Dawn McCullough-White: "Both my books "Cameo the Assassin" and "Cameo and the Highwayman" are Historical dark fantasy/paranormal fantasy... That's my own guess at the genres I rolled into one."

Vianka Van Bokkem: "All my books (24) have genre mixing."

Duane Gundrum: "Genre mixing has been the main reason my career has been so difficult. I had a pretty well known agent for a few years who finally gave up on me because every book I presented to her was a mix of genres."

Keith Gouvela: "My novella, Behind the Stained Glass is a mix of Fantasy and Horror as well as my upcoming re-release of The Goblin Princess."

Levi Revelian: "My novel, Remix, is a bit of a whodunnit, crime and mystery with romance. It appeals to a wide variety of readers, including chicklit fans."

Ric K. Hill: "The Right Side of the Fairway, by Ric K. Hill, is a whimsical tale that is a mix of genres. Sports (golf), thriller, humor, and romance are the first categories that come to mind . . ."

Barbra Annino: "My book is a cozy mystery with elements of fantasy and lots of humor."

Teri J. Dluznieski: "Both my short stories are a sort of mixed or ambiguous genre:) they are spiritual shamanic, with a touch of horror in one of them . . ."

Alan Ryker: "Burden Kansas is a contemporary vampire western. Kind of like All the Pretty Horses meets Salem's Lot."

Lovers and Beloveds: "Not enough sex for erotica, too much sex for mainstream fantasy. *headdesk* But! It appeals to the readers of Jacqueline Carey, of which there are a few."

Awakening: "...a clever mixture of quantum physics, re-incarnation, bio-chemistry & the mind beyond the body, a little metaphysics, simply being human & all this coupled within the bizzare & wonderful realm of dreams... A bit of sexual activity seduction girl gets guy, or doesn't stuff, tastefully done, blends in well... some cloning ideas, holograms, out of body scenes, plus humour with some tongue in cheek moments too!"

Ah! Here's one that actually pokes fun at the whole concept of genres! Craig Robertson: "My third book, The Prisoner of NaNoWriMo, intentionally mixes them. I wrote the book about a hapless novice author who cannot choose a genre, so he explores them all - poorly, I might add. In the book I poked fun at the entire concept of genres - it was kind of why I wrote it."


  1. What a great post!

    I think that there's always been a bit of a mixing of genres, but traditional publishing wants books to fit into neat little genre boxes. Thus we have traditionally published "thrillers" that actually have a touch of scifi or historical fiction (James Rollins), romances that are post-apocalyptic (Joss Ware, Gayle Ann Williams), and so on. Stories that go too far over into mixing genres get nixed.

    In indie publishing, the only limit to genre mixing is the writer's imagination and the interest of his/her readers. And honestly, I think readers are a lot more interested in genre mixing than traditional publishers realize.

  2. Thanks for the mention, Anna. I would like to add that my favorite aspect of my novel, The Prisoner of NaNoWriMo, is that it is hilarious - humor is a genre too!