Friday, October 27, 2017

What Is Your Preferred Genre and Would You Change It?

Our Round Robin Topic for October is: In what time period do you prefer to set your stories – past, present, or future? What are the problems and advantages of that choice? Would you like to change?

This is a topic that caught my attention right away. Some writers stick to just one genre whether it be romance, thrillers, cozy mysteries, sci-fi, or whatever. Although I mostly write Regency romance, I also like the Edwardian period of history but set my last book, Brides of Banff Springs, in the more recent historical era of 1935.

I never set out to write historical anything. My first attempt at a novel was a western contemporary romance. Knowing nothing about ranches or rodeos meant I had to do quite a lot of research, and that fascinated me. There was no internet or Google in 1998 which meant trips to the library, phone calls and fax requests to cowboys, ranchers, and stock contractors. One lead led to another and I became a regular visitor to the then Western Heritage Centre in Cochrane, Alberta, which had the most amazing archives and a wonderfully knowledgeable archivist.

It wasn’t long before I had more material than I could ever use. Discussing this wealth of information with a workshop presenter, I was told to first ‘write the damn book’ and then decide what portions of my treasure trove to drop in it. That approach just did not work for me and I let that novel go because I made such a mess of it.

But the research bug had bitten and it wasn’t long before I attempted my first Regency. I have to say that, having grown up with my all-time favorite author, Georgette Heyer, it was more an homage to her than anything else. However, because there are strong elements of adventure in it, I’ve been told it’s not true Regency romance.

I have also had it pointed out to me on more than one occasion that by swapping my genre I am cheating my readers as they have come to expect the Regencies from me. That may be so to some degree but, in all honesty, I get bored. Just as I don’t always want to read Regency romances, I don’t want to write them either.

I have never wanted to be pigeon-holed in life which has made for a very varied work history. I’ve carried this into my writing as, if I’m bored with what I’m writing, it’s going to show which is not good for me or my readers. There is also the aspect of writing different genres under pseudonyms. Nora Roberts, born Eleanor Marie Robertson, writes as J.D. Robb, Jill March, and Sarah Hardesty. Jayne Ann Krentz writes under seven different names including Amanda Quick and Jayne Taylor. I have enough trouble writing as one person, let alone working with other personas.

I am currently working on the third novel in my Berkeley Square Regency series. I’m thoroughly enjoying it, but what comes next will be a completely different beast as I am contemplating writing women’s fiction. As writers, although we have much to thank all our readers for ultimately we have to be true to ourselves for our best work to emerge. If that means mixing it up from one genre to another wherever and whenever the story is set, then so be it. After all, it’s the story that really matters.

Check out what these fine authors have to say on the subject.