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What's Your Genre?

If you're a writer, sooner or later, and probably sooner, someone - bookshop, publisher, reader, agent, promoter - will ask you what is the genre of your books.

For some writers, this is straightforward. They write Romance, or Sci-Fi, or Crime Thrillers, or one of the others. The advantage is that a reader knows what to expect. When they see the name Stephen King, Lynda La Plante, Ian Rankin, Liz Eeles, Jill Mansell, they know the sort of book they'll get. And if they've read something by one of these writers and enjoyed it, they can reach for another becuase they know that this authors gives them what they like.

This can be a disadvantage. After her Harry Potter series, JK Rowling wanted to try something else: crime fiction featuring a hard-boiled private eye. However, she didn't want readers seeing her name on a new cover and thinking it was more Hogwarts. Her solution was to write under a completely different name: Robert Galbraith.

My problems are twofold. One is that when I start a book I may have a type of reader in mind but not a genre. The second follows on from that: it's that I write the story I want to tell, and that has led to my (currently) 9 novels covering a range of genres.

My first three, the REBOOT series, are about a pandemic (written before Covid and much, much worse) and what people do after it. So it's dystopian, with a dash of environment thriller, and a strong romance theme in Book 3.

Then take my novel "The God Jar". That's split between Elizabethan and contemporary times. The 16th century sections are historical of the "Wolf Hall" kind because they try to accurately portray what happened, or what might have, but there's a magical element too, so that's historical fantasy. But the modern sections go in the environment thriller slot.

"I Know What You're Thinking" is soft sf combined with medical thriller. "What Dreams We Had!" is contemporary fantasy with a dash of contemporary romance, and my recently completed Leopard's Bane series is high fantasy. And they all (apart maybe from "The God Jar") have a strong YA/NA slant.

It's a problem for booksellers to know what shelf to put my books on, and for me to know where to slot them on Amazon. Is it a problem for my readers because they don't know what to expect? Only they can say. The plus side is that I can truly say that I cater for a wide audience.

And my next novel, number 10? Well, that's currently at the planning stage, but it looks as though it will be an adult, psychological thriller, with a touch of the occult! Watch this space.

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