Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Genre Fan or Genre Hopper

Good evening Bookaholics. Today's blog is for both readers and writers. I have been thinking a lot about genres recently. This was sparked by a talk I was giving at a local library. One of the questions asked by the audience was what type of books do I read. Now I would have said I am an eclectic reader but it made me stop and think. What do I actually like reading?

If there is nothing else available then I will pretty much read anything, including, but not limited to, the back of a cornflakes packet. I need to add the disclaimer that other cereals are available. Or serials I suppose as we are talking about reading. However, my passion remains crime. I love crime bookstand am fortunate to be able to live, and write, in Scotland. Tartan Noir, or Scottish Crime Fiction is huge in Scotland which gives me a lot of Authors from which to choose. We have Ian Rankin, Quintin Jardine, Stuart McBride, Lin Anderson, Alex Grey and Chris Longmuir amongst many other great writers. However, I read crime books from all over the world and I love both Nordic and American crime writers. I have also read books translated from Spanish, German and French. 

As I write crime fiction it is good that I read so many crime books. However, there is an argument that reading widely across genres is better to develop your skills as a writer. With this in mind I do read other genres such as Chick Lit, Literary Fiction, Autobiographies and historical amongst others. Does this make me a better writer? I would like to think so. Do I enjoy reading other books? Yes, whilst I am reading them but I am always drawn back to crime.

Another aspect to look at is genre hopping as a writer. I haven't tried this to any great extent as yet. I have written some memoir as part of a course. I have also written a couple of comic pieces. I have a plan to develop these and turn them into a book one day. I can assure you, so far, there isn't a dead body in sight. I can't promise that will remain the case for the entire book however. 

Some authors are superb at genre hopping. PD James did an excellent job with the book Death Comes to Pemberley pictured at the top of the page. She had many years as a writer under her belt when she did so. She was also a master of her craft. 

So the question to the readers on here. Do you like to read different genres, or have a passion for one? My question to the authors. Do you find yourself genre hopping or sticking to the one genre? 

I look forward to seeing you all back here soon. Until then, keep reading or writing as the case may be. 


  1. I HATE genre straitjackets. I write first and then consider what genre it fits. Ideas for stories/novels come to me from different triggers/sources and I run with them, Currently writing a sort-of-supernatural/psychological thriller set in Isle of Mull in 1920's. Will that be historical fiction? Or ghost story/fantasy? Or a psychological thriller? There is a dysfunctional family at the heart of it so it might be Family Life/Women's Interest. There's a bit of love interest, so it might be Romance . . . see what I mean?

    1. Fran, it seems to me that you are an expert at blending genres. As a writer it makes me wonder if this limits our reader base our whether it works in our favour. What is your experience? I would be interested to know.

  2. I think publishers and marketers worry a lot more about categorising books than readers do. I've often been pleasantly surprised when, having been driven by lack of choice or because my book group wants to do it, I read a labelled genre I would never choose myself. That's because I've enjoyed the aspects in it that have very little/nothing to do with the genre e.g. psychological depth/intrigue in science fiction or comedy/satire in crime

    1. I think you are right there Fran. Genre's mean it fits on the correct shelf and is therefore displayed and sold more easily. I agree we can often be pleasantly surprised when we move out of our comfort zone and try something new. For me Captain Correli's Mandolin is a perfect example. I loved that book but it is not a genre I would ordinarily pick up.