Today we are joined by Karen Duvall, who I was fortunate enough to meet through RWA. I hope you enjoy her guest post, as well as check out her books!
By Karen Duvall
Remember when the dividing lines between genres were clearly defined? Fantasy. Science Fiction. Mystery. Romance. Literary. Bookstores had to know which section to shelve the books. There were no “in-between” areas of the store. Readers needed to easily find which section to browse in order to find the genre they wanted.
Less than twenty-five years ago, I remember when I’d catch the occasional hybrid book and I’d be ecstatic to have found something new and different. I sought out more that were like them, but it wasn’t easy. I wanted my mystery mixed with my things that go bump in the night and a little romance thrown in for good measure. I found a ghostly tale or two, maybe a mystery with a psychic, but I was still hungry for a satisfying yarn that contained all the yummy stuff I wanted to gorge on for my reading pleasure.
Once the Internet became as common as the household boob tube, it got a little easier to locate books that fell within my reading tastes. I was writing by then and working on projects that appealed to my craving for mixed genres. That was all fine and good until I explored the possibility of getting published.
I attended a writers’ conference and sat in on a panel of a half dozen editors who fielded attendees’ questions. I asked for their take on crossing genres. They all looked at me like I’d just sprouted a third eye in the middle of my forehead. That’s when one of them explained, and quite patiently I might add, how important it is for a book to clearly fall in only one genre category. Her very words to me were: “Bookstores don’t have a section called ‘what the *bleep* is this’.” And she didn’t say bleep.
Her answer didn’t stop me from writing what I wanted to write. And it didn’t stop hundreds of other authors from pursuing their insatiable desire to create stories from a widening pool of mixed genre possibilities. It took a few years, but we have finally arrived in a readers’ paradise of genre hybrids.
That got me to thinking of all the genre combinations I’ve seen, or ones that I haven’t. Not only are we seeing mixed genres, we’re seeing the gamut of centuries-old mythology and folklore from around the globe being used in contemporary stories about the boy and girl next door. We’re seeing fairytales retold, old legends renewed, and monsters of all kinds getting a literary facelift. I love it!
Now we can find not only a mix of two genres–like romance mixes well with just about anything–but we’re seeing triple and quadruple subgenre mash-ups. And not just in books. Look at all the amazing television shows and movies.
The only subgenres I really doubt can be mixed are erotica and inspirational. Unless I’m missing something, I think they contradict each other. Please correct me if I’m wrong.
A beloved mash-up project of mine that’s still looking for a home is my alternate history steampunk fantasy. It’s possible that publishers aren’t quite ready for this one. I think it’s a terrific story that I’m probably going to end up self-publishing someday. But who knows?
I do have a new book coming from Harlequin Luna in March 2012 that’s a follow-up to the first book in my Knight’s Curse trilogy. It’s called DARKEST KNIGHT and is a mash-up tale of angels and sorcery told by a modern day female knight.
Here’s a description from the back cover of DARKEST KNIGHT:
After the warrior she loves saved her from a murderous Gargoyle, Chalice watched helplessly as Aydin turned into a Gargoyle himself. Now, free from the curse that enslaved her, Chalice pledges to join her sister knights in The Order of the Hatchet—and do whatever it takes to regain Aydin’s humanity…and his love. What she encounters within their hallowed sanctuary is pure intrigue.
Someone—or something—is murdering her sisters in their sleep, provoking fear and suspicion among the order. Meanwhile, Aydin, unable to stay away, starts haunting Chalice’s dreams, urging her onward. Ultimately, Chalice will be faced with an agonizing choice— one that will tear away at her newfound identity and force her to choose between duty and desire….
Now I have a challenge for all of you. Can you think of any subgenre mash-ups that haven’t already been done?
KNIGHT’S CURSE – Publisher’s Weekly TOP 10 ROMANCE PICK for Fall 2011
DARKEST KNIGHT – A Knight’s Curse novel coming March 2012 from Harlequin Luna