Writing Challenge Day 21: My preferred genre

Crumbs, there are some interesting topics in this topic! The problem with this one is that essentially genres segment books into one thing or another, slicing away any possibility that a book may seep into another. 😱

Unpicking this…

Historical fiction is an umbrella for biography (Julian by Gore Vidal), adventure (Rafael Sabatini’s The Sea Hawk), romance (any Georgette Heyer Regency story), literary introspection (The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco but also mystery), historical whodunits (any of the Falco or Flavia Albia series by Lindsey Davis), epic saga (anything by Edward Rutherford), police procedurals (Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther series), a portrayal of a time of great change whether in the ancient past (Mary Renault’s brilliant novels of Greece) or the explosion of 20th century world wars (Pat Barker, Sebastian Faulks) which still resonate strongly with us now.

Some subgenres such as alternate history (um, the Roma Nova thrillers) and historical fantasy (Naomi Novik’s Temeraire) insert speculative or ahistorical elements into a novel.

Thrillers and mysteries can include political, conspiracy, crime and spy stories, or very popular at present, psychological thrillers. They can range from the shocking and horrific (Stephen King), almost unbearable to read to cozy village mysteries such as the Miss Marple stories.

Action thrillers include ransoms, captivities, heists, revenge and kidnappings as themes and sometimes plunge into terrorist and drug fields. But often there is a female sidekick/scientist/pawn in such stories, or these days a female lead with a male sidekick. The tension between them is nearly always laced with a dollop of sexual chemistry, if not romance. Interspersed are the sadly out of fashion ‘caper’ stories which are light-hearted action stories.

But what are they when they stray into another genre like Ken Follet’s The Key to Rebecca, Ellis Peters’s Cadfael or Steven Saylor’s Roma Sub Rosa series featuring Gordianus the Finder?

Romance shouldn’t be a problem, should it? Boy/girl meets girl/boy and after various trials and tribulations, they arrive at a happy ending, or at least, a happy for now ending.

End of.

Well, no. Romance subgenres can include contemporary, historical, romantic suspense, paranormal, science fiction romance, fantasy, time-travel, multi-cultural, erotic romance, epic, saga and chicklit. As you can see, several of these seep into other genres.

So romance is another very large umbrella. In fact, a book without an emotional relationship would seem to be rather bland in my er, book.

Going boldly where plenty of people actually have gone before, we enter the science fiction and fantasy genre where we find criminality (J D Robb’s Eve Dallas series), space exploration, intergalactic warfare, multi-dimensional transfiguration (The Expanse) and good old fantasy with dragons (Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern), witchcraft (Neil Gaiman’s Stardust) and mythology (Lord of the Rings J R R Tolkein). Many of these have a strong element of romance.

And then there are classics like 1984 and anything by H G Wells or Margaret Atwood which comment on where humans have changed their society, often for the worst. Are they merely dystopian or social science observations?

Sci-fi subgenres can also include environmental issues, hard science, computing, time travel, comedy, historical elements, biology, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, military sci-fi, space opera, new world colonies, lost in space and/or time, space western, steampunk, alternative history(!), all of which cross different genres.

So we have another gigantic umbrella…

I’m not going into other territories as it would take a book on its own, but the above genres/umbrellas are among my favourites, even though some of the subgenres are not.

I’m really not too fussy about genres. They give a guide when selecting a book, but I never rule one out because of its supposed genre. Ultimately, it’s about the story, the characters and the writing and how that combination takes me on an emotional journey when I might learn something about myself and the human situation. Oh, and enjoy a thumping good read.

Writing challenges so far:

Day 20: Characters’ favourite food (and drink!)
Day 19: Characters’ pastimes
Day 18: Characters’ pet peeves(!)
Days 16 & 17: Favourite outfits (combined)
Day 15: The many-hatted author
Day 14: Show your workplace
Day 13: A funny family story. Or not
Day 12: Early bird or night owl?
Day 11: Favourite writing snacks/chocolate porn
Day 10: Post an old picture of yourself
Day 9: Post 5 random facts about you
Day 8: What’s your writing process?
Day 7: Introduce your ‘author friend’
Day 6: How the writing all began
Day 5: What inspired the book I’m working on
Day 4: The setting for the new Roma Nova book
Day 3: Introducing the main characters Julia and Apulius
Day 2: Introduce your work in progress
Day 1: Starting with revealing information


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers –  INCEPTIO,  PERFIDITAS,  SUCCESSIO,  AURELIA,  INSURRECTIO  and RETALIO.  CARINA, a novella, and ROMA NOVA EXTRA, a collection of short stories, are now available.  Audiobooks are available for four of the series. NEXUS, an Aurelia Mitela novella, is now out.

Find out more about Roma Nova, its origins, stories and heroines… Download ‘Welcome to Roma Nova’, a FREE eBook, as a thank you gift when you sign up to Alison’s monthly email newsletter. You’ll also be first to know about Roma Nova news and book progress before everybody else, and take part in giveaways.

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