Shelley is talking about genre over at the Dynamic Trio blog today. You should check it out because she’s smart and well spoken and I think she’s fab.
I thought I’d touch on it from my perspective here. I like the blurring of lines between genres. I think it’s exciting and brings fresh air into what’s coming out now. Rather than be distressed by the recent books that stretch our expectations of romance, I love them. I love that authors are taking chances and having the opportunity to do so by editors with the power or persuasive skill to buy them to begin with.
I look at books like Kim Harrison’s Hollows series and I think she’s done something so fabulous and readers responded to that. They’re not simply paranormals, they’ve definitely got a romantic feel to them as well. But they don’t fit comfortably in any genre box and how great is that? She took the best from a few different genres and she blazed a trail.
That is creativity. That’s what artists do. She took risks and in doing so, she made something that rose above the restrictions of genre. When we try and shove everything into genre boxes, we miss stories like Lilith Saintcrow’s Dante Valentine novels and Harrison’s Hollows books. Kelley Armstrong’s Bitten is another fabulous example.
I’m not dogging straight romances – I write straight romances most of the time. I love writing them and you all seem to like reading them so hey, that’s all good for me! (and thank you!) But there’s a book out there now that I hope to goodness sells that doesn’t fit in a box. It’s romantic, it has a romantic resolution but it’s also a hard assed paranormal. It’s been a trial because it doesn’t fit (too much sex for the straight urban fantasy lines, too much romance, too hard a heroine for romance). And still, it’s a good story. I know it’s mine and I know we’re supposed to pretend we can’t really say this stuff but damn it, it’s a good book and I want to finish it.
I’d like for us to expand our expectations instead of narrowing genre boxes. Yes, I suppose that’s idealistic of me, but I can’t help it. I think about all the truly wonderful books I’ve read and almost all of them came as a surprise to me. I wasn’t expecting them to be what they were. I want that element of wonder and suspense, I like it.