Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Genre Hopping? Good? Bad?

The discussion on a yahoo loop I follow deals with this very topic and prompted me to blog about it.  There is so much marketing hoopla these days to create a "brand" for yourself and stick with it, but...what about those of us who don't plot our stories or determine the genre?  I write what my characters dictate, and that has taken me in all different directions.

There's no doubt that I'd like be known as a famous western historical author, but when Cindy Johnson limped into my head and insisted I write Shortcomings for a YA audience, I couldn't refuse. Her message about bullying and how high school students mistreat those "different" than themselves packed quite a wallop.  When Hope Hastings, from Hope Springs Eternal, showed up, crying and distraught over the decisions she had to make as a middle aged woman, how could I deny her?  She was going through much of the angst I went through as a divorced woman.  Sarah had a journey to take and invited me along, and when Mariah commanded my attention, I couldn't stop laughing at the thought of two characters traveling through time and ending up with one another's husband.  I had to take that trip to see where it led.

To me, genre hopping is no big deal as long as you write each story to the best of your ability.  Chastity, Faith Ellie, Taylor and all the rest of my heroines shared stories with me that I couldn't deny writing.  I have no limitations thus I have a waiting room filled with heroines and heroes who will take me and my readers wherever their stories lead.

I think people might be surprised at how many authors do genre hop.  They just do it under different pen names.  One of the most prolific authors I respect, Madeline Baker, has written tons of western historical novels, but she also writes as Amanda Ashley and has penned a string of vampire hits.  Check out her website.
She doesn't need the promo from me, but I used her as an example because she was a role model for me when I first started writing.  Over the years, I've read the majority of her western historical novels and loved everyone of them.  I wish I had the nerve to approach her about reading one of mine and commenting to see if I did her proud.  *lol*

Since I do well to remember my own name, I'm steering clear of pen names.  I guess the point of this blog was to point out that I do genre hop, but I do it for very good reasons.  Maybe we should make this a dance.  We already have the "Bunny Hop." Let's do the "Genre Hop."


Roseanne Dowell said...

While I don't genre hop as such, because all my stories (so far anyway) are romance, but I write contemporary romance, paranormal, and mystery. Some have young hero/heroine and a few have older and one had senior citizens. So...is that genre hopping? I'm not sure, but it's definitely not branded. I'm like you, whatever the muse says, I do.

Jim Hartley said...

It depends on how far you hop, I think. Within the area of speculative fiction, I can get away with "Once upon a time there was a spaceship full of witches ..." as a tagline for my book, "Magic Is Faster Than Light" due out in May.

But occasionally I think about hopping farther. I came up with a really great title for a fantasy western, "Gunfight at the Orc Corral," haven't gotten around to writing the story yet, though!

L. K. Below/Lindsay Below said...

I'll do the Genre Hop with you!

I've been told to stick with one genre many times. In the coming year, I have four contemporary romances of varying lengths coming out, one urban fantasy, one young adult (science fiction), and one middle grade (realistic fiction). Not to mention the ...what I like to call "fairytale" romance, and the paranormal romance I already have out. Will I stick to one genre, heck no!

I'm trying to "brand" myself as an all-genre person from day one. We'll see how that goes LOL. "Whatever your flavor" is my motto, meaning I write everything. Now if I can get that to stick in people's heads and make it successful, that would be great...

L. K. Below/Lindsay Below said...

Love that title, Jim! Hope you do something with it. It definitely sounds like something fresh.

Unknown said...

I've written 2 paranormals, 1 historical and 2 contemporary. All under my own name. I don't like the idea of being branded as one type of author. I write what I feel to the best of my ability and put it out there. I plan to keep right "genre hopping" because I feel it keeps my creativity flowing.

Jim, I love that title and really hope you write that story. I'll also have to pick up Magic Is Faster Than Light.

Lin said...

Ginger, have you be spending time inside my head? Your posting expresses my own skirmish with those that want me to pin the label of "genre" upon my inner Nudge. Nudge is the real storyteller...and we are like Siamese Twins...with Nudge being the dominanat one. Where Nudge leads I have no choice but to follow...If I don't, there is so much hell to pay!

I have learned to just step aside when Nudge wants to speak and let her channel thorugh me. (God I sound like I suffer form MULTI-PERSONALITY DISORDER...and know what, the odds are I do.) But I think every writer DOES. If we didn't we'd all be content to sit behind a desk and work the typical nine-to-five come home have our prequisite 3.5 glasses on Glenlivet scotch, plop ourselves down before the tv, and begin snoring loud enough to call all dogs within a fifteen mile radius to our back doors by 8:30.

Give me the multi-personality disorder. Because of Nudge, I get to soar into any world, setting, emtional crisis, century she takes me to. You can't be that!

Lin said...

Okay...that last line is supposed to say "can't BEAT that."

Also either my dyslexia is acting up, or Nudge, who is hasseling over the upcoming scene of unbridled passion between my hero and heroine...but with the heroine's Grandma's essence percolating inside the hero...(she zapped herself into him when he wasn't looking.)creating much angst for him. Does that make it a threesome?

Anonymous said...

Where I come from, branding is writing on cattle with a red hot iron. Nope -- I don't want to be branded.

Since all my titles released so far have been from one alternate world--SF adventure series I haven't been genre hopping. But my fantasy "Rast" due out from Muse in March is a shuffle sideways into another genre, so I'll see if I have any problems pointed out to me. I will also write whatever story demands to be written, whatever the genre.
I think e-book authors have more leeway than those regimented by corporate publishers. Imagine -- an erotic vampire romance from Margaret Attwood -- the publishers and the literati would have heart attacks.

Chris H.

Cheryl said...

Well, since I started out writing women's fiction and ended up being published as a children's author, how much farther can I jump? LOL!

I think there is a lot to be said for branding, but I also don't think you can ignore the ideas floating around in your head even if that means you write something so far outside of your norm that you consider a pen name. I don't know what I will do if I ever get published for an older market. Only time will tell.


Cellophane Queen said...

My book resume includes YA fantasy (middle-eastern mythology division) YA fantasy (contemporary urban/rural divsion), YA adventure, mystery/suspense, science fiction, science fiction romance, humorous memoirs (my father's, not mine).

In short stories, I also have published women's fiction, horror, paranormal, creative non-fiction, plus all of the book genres.

Genre hopping? Nah. Not me.

Penny Lockwood Ehrenkranz said...

Hi Ginger, I definitely genre hop :-) I get bored writing the same thing all the time. I write for both adults and children. I write both fiction and non-fiction. I write, fantasy, soft science fiction, paranormal, mainstream and romance. I'm all for the genre hop!

Suzanne Brandyn Author said...

I thought I'd never genre hop. But I've just completed a suspense with attraction It's very different from my last two published novels as they were contemporary romance. I am currently plotting another suspense with attraction, not the traditiaonsl romance. Why? I have been told by an editor of one of the larger publshing houses that I'm a natural suspense writer. I enjoy writing both. It's a far cry from the category of Harlequin I originally targeted. But I'm still targeting Harlequin Superromance. I feel comfortable with this. One never knows what direction their writing will take them until they reach it. :)And then there is sci fi and paranormal... I won't go there. lol.... So you see I do ride a kangaroo to work each day. :)

Suzanne Brandyn Author said...

My fingers do have a mind of their own, especially when they are holding the reins. Sorry. :)

hotcha12 said...


Unknown said...

Hotcha12...may I ask why you wish authors would use an alias when they write GBLT? It's a hot topic, and many authors are jumping on the sales bandwagon. I couldn't write it if I tried, but I have several friends who write in the genre, but they weave a story around the GBLT issues. If you find the right book, you might be surprised. I certainly was.

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