Genre Bending

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.

5 comments to “Genre Bending”

  1. Christine
    January 22nd, 2007 at 5:17 pm · Link

    I don’t have a problem w/ too much romance, too much sex or hard assed heroine. Unless there is no story at all. Let’s face it sex can’t save a book that has no story or completely unlikeable characters. I can’t wait for this story. Hey maybe I’m prejudice because I like your work. You haven’t disappointed me yet so I am willing to look outside the box

  2. Jordan
    January 22nd, 2007 at 5:27 pm · Link

    Here, here. I love the mix of genres. It makes for more interesting reading. The one I have coming out next year combines sci-fi, fantasy, romance and horror together.

  3. rhian
    January 22nd, 2007 at 6:59 pm · Link

    Yes, damn it YES! Authors ARE artists too and envelopes NEED to be pushed, boxes stomped and the sharp edge of creativity allowed to cut apart comfortable expectations and give birth to new and exciting stories! Dang Lauren, You rock. But i knew that. And of course – you write it and i’ll buy it and read it.

  4. N.J. Walters
    January 23rd, 2007 at 8:09 am · Link

    I love the fact that authors are pushing the envelope. As a result, there have been a ton of fabulous books released over the past few years.

    Good luck with selling your book. If you wrote it, I know it has to be fantastic!

  5. Lauren
    January 23rd, 2007 at 9:55 am · Link

    Aww Christine, thank you!

    Jordan, I can’t wait to read your Tor book. Everything I hear about it makes me want to read it even more.

    Rhian – thank you so much. On my best day I’d like to think I’m an artist. Of course, entertaining people is important – the book should be accessible. But risks can pay off in great stories (like Dirty)

    NJ – I was talking about you last night when I was at dinner with friends, saying how much I loved your books and what a genuinely nice person you were and lookit here, you go and prove me right!