Australian writer of books for younger readers, young adults, verse novels and poetry.

Genre Bending – notes from Continuum 15

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Okay – so the panel wasn’t called that! And, I admit I’ve taught a short course for the CAE which I titled ‘Genre Bending’. However, the panel on Speculative Elements in Women’s Fiction talked about the difficulties of categorisation in fiction and also the problems marketing can have with fiction that defies or crosses genres.

Who knew that the publisher held on to Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander (published in the UK as Cross Stitch) for a year while the marketing department tried to work out an effective publicity strategy – or, presumably, even if there was an effective publicity strategy? Bet the publisher’s glad marketing came to the party in the end! (As are Gabaldon’s readers!) If you think about the Outlander series it has everything: historical romance, romance, time travel, historical fiction, women’s fiction… (although I once met a middle-aged man in the train who was reading it.)

The panelists made an excellent point about the need to read widely to improve any writing – and suggested that a writer should look to crime and horror for how to write about conflict, and romance for how to write effective sex scenes.

They also made the important point that simply writing kickarse female characters isn’t the only way to create strong female protagonists. The celebration of those qualities we traditionally assume to be female – empathy, nurturing, the ability to listen etc. – is equally important.

Interestingly romance is a genre that does push genre boundaries – and it’s the best-selling genre – so, if you think you can write romance, now is the time to try. I’m thinking of creating a niche market – dog park romance!

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