Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Stuck in the genre with you

While I was posting the trailer in the previous entry, it occurred to me that I had examples of other videos I’d written and made which represented other aspects of me. (God, how solipsistic this whole blogging business is – who on earth cares about ‘other aspects of me’? Ah well …) I’ll post examples in future entries but my real point in bringing this up now is that it made me aware once again of how publishers (and probably readers) prefer us to stay within the genre they associate with us.
In the summer, for example, I have a historical novel due for publication. OK, it’s still crime-based, but it’s not part of my police procedural series, and it flirts with the romance genre.

Also, at the moment, I’m editing a satirical novel I’ve written on the spy genre which is full of black humour and near-farcical situations. Once again, it’s crime-related but the main idea is to make readers laugh. I’ve been told I should think of using a pseudonym but, if that’s the case, there’d be three of me already – the police procedural guy, the historical guy, and the funny man.

On the other hand, if a reader spends $X or £X on a book of mine because he/she enjoyed a previous one, I’ll be disappointing them if it’s totally different. But on the other other hand, should writers be condemned to keep on producing the same book over and over?

My plan is to write a total of six in the procedural series. Three have already been published, two more are written, and the final one is fully formed but has yet to be blocked out. My aim is for a type of bleakness to increase through the series so that the progression is obvious and the final novel is pretty grim. I also want to write a sequel to the historical one and, if anyone likes the satire enough to publish it, I’d love to start another of those because they’re great fun to write.

And this posting sums up two opposing functions of blogging. Here, I’ve expressed my misgivings about being stuck in a genre and so I can pre-empt any misunderstandings by spelling out what each new title will deliver. But I’ve also, perhaps foolishly, articulated in public my plans for future books. Whenever that happens, the written word becomes a fixed, irretrievable truth. Which means I seem to have committed myself to writing the damn things.

On the other hand (again), I could have a Damascene moment and leap to an entirely different genre – something like ‘The Wordless Novel’. I could manage that.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Thanks so much Jean. Not only did I start this thanks to you but you're helping to make it worth doing.

  3. I've been an insomniac of late and my spelling and proof reading have suffered, which is why I removed my first post. Having said that, you have a lovely website, Bill, and I'm sure you've had plenty of visitors, who just haven't had time to leave comments.