Here is a reprint of an article I wrote for the September issue of the LARA (Los Angeles Romance Authors) newsletter. Hope you enjoy it!
How much is that genre in the window?
When I started discussing my writing I was quick to tell people who asked that I wrote contemporary romance and paranormal romance. Seems simple enough, right?
Then I discovered a whole untapped world of sub genres. I found out that my stories needed to be further classified. What kind of contemporary? Is it Western? Sports? Military? New Adult? I didn’t have an answer because I didn’t know. I’d never thought about it. They were contemporaries.
Similar questions were posed to me about my paranormal series. What kind of paranormal? Is it really paranormal or is it fantasy romance? When I described the story and world building to a fellow LARA member she told me it sounded like fantasy romance. When I researched it I decided that she could be right. Or I could be right. Or we both could be. There’s a subjective quality to the genre classification. I could argue that there’s an urban fantasy element to my series as well.
Labels. That’s really all we’re talking about. Where does the series fit? Where would you find it if you went to the stacks at Barnes & Noble? More importantly, how does the publisher classify it? How should you pitch it? How do you sell it?
When I first discovered ebay I tracked down out of print books by authors I admired. One of those authors was Elizabeth Lowell. I loved the way she wrote. When I delved into her back catalog online I was surprised to find that she had written some fantasy books with a heavy dollop of romance under the name Ann Maxwell that I had read and admired as a teenager. So what were they? Science fiction? Fantasy? Fantasy romance? Or something in between? She also wrote a medieval/magical romance series as well as the Western themed contemporaries that originally attracted my attention. Now she writes what I would consider to be suspense romances. I love that she cut across a wide range of romance genres. You would get whiplash trying to narrow down all of the classifications she could fall under.
If I had to label my finished books and my WIPs I’d say they were contemporary romances in several sub categories like sports and music. My paranormals run the gamut of fantasy romance to sci-fi romance to straight paranormal. Each has their own spin on the genre, but they all lie firmly in a happily ever after. I admire Nalini Singh’s two series, labeled, it appears, as paranormal romance and urban fantasy. Jayne Castle (Jayne Ann Krentz) writes a terrific series set in a future world with uncanny powers. Are the books paranormal or fantasy romance? Hey, whatever sells, right? Whatever can drive eyeballs to my books is the genre I want to be in.
I don’t write with one eye on a possible genre/subgenre but I am aware that someone will be trying to classify it. Just as the universe is vast, so are the genres involved in our slice of the publishing pie entitled “romance.” I let my imagination soar dictate what I write, without consideration to where it fits. I never want to limit my writing to what sells, because that doesn’t create great stories. So I write about rock stars. I write about cat shifters. I write about extreme sports moguls. I write about fire Elementals. I write about the last man on earth. I write about dragons. It doesn’t matter what it is. There’s room for all of it in my brain, and hopefully in someone else’s library.