Friday 15 January 2010

Genres...Would a book by any other name...?

Earlier this week the ladies over at Vampchix did a very interesting blog about the vampire-romance genre. They wanted to (and successfully did) start a discussion about what fitted into the genre 'vampire-romance' and what was just 'urban-fantasy'.

This blog got me thinking for two reasons; Firstly, until I had actually written and had my novel Alone published, I didn't even know there was a genre called vampire-romance, and secondly - what the hell is 'urban fantasy'?

Apparently a vampire-romance cannot be called a vampire-romance unless it has a happy-ever-after ending. Now this throws me into all sorts of quandaries. Can you not have a romance unless the two lead characters walk off hand-in-hand into the sunset together? Is this ultimately the deciding factor of what makes up a romance?

All of the novels I have written (with the exception of one) has some romance in them, though I would certainly never describe them as being romances (and I think if anyone picked them up thinking this was what they were they would get a shock!). I like a novel to have a bit of everything.  Our personal relationships are the thing that makes us human, and for the most part are the most important things in our lives - I find it difficult to see how someone could write a story without involving some personal relationships.

Why does everything have to be lumped into a category anyway? Can't a story just be a story without it having to be given such a specific genre? Also, if a book is labelled incorrectly it can either put off a huge audience or else people who have picked it up thinking it is one thing will be disappointed that it wasn't the genre they thought it was.

Surely it wasn’t so long ago that the only genres we had were romance, horror, sci-fi, mystery, and western (apologies if I have missed out your favourite.)  People were just happy to dive into a story without having to know every detail of what they were getting before they started reading it.

Personally I'm in favour of scrapping the whole relying on the genre thing and actually picking up a book and reading the blurb. Surely that would give everyone involved a better idea of what the story is about and if it is for them?

As it is I am still left wondering what genre my novel is supposed to fit in... maybe I should just make up one of my own...


  1. Marissa, I had/have the same problem with Release. It really hampered me when looking for an agent, because: it's got paranormal creatures in it, so is it urban fantasy? But it's set during WWII, so is it historical fiction? Thriller? Horror? Romance? Supernatural Historical Thriller is the one I use, but I'm still not sure that quite fits, especially since the sequel takes place during modern times.

    I think there should be a new genre called Literary Paranormal, which blends intelligent themes, paranormal creatures, romance, but doesn't follow set guidelines of Romance or Urban Fantasy. Hell, I may start using Literary Paranormal myself! H

    Have a great weekend!

  2. I love it! So you can just make up one yourself... I shall start championing Literary Paranormal for you. For myself I think I will go for romantic horror... LOL

  3. I have also watched Mirrors and loved it although a lot of it was watched behind a large cushion. An excellent horror movie but I do feel some of it was adapted from Stephen King´s The Shining, i.e. the premise of The Caretaker suffering from marital and alcoholic problems looking after an old hotel/store. Anyway Jack is back this week on 24 so settle down with a large glass of wine and chocolate and enjoy.

  4. Hi, Marissa,
    I'm an author as well and really have problems with someone telling me that this doesn't fit in with such and such a genre. I like mixing genres, and do so for the most part in my novel "Spell of th Black Unicorn" which is a fantasy, but there is a bit of sci/fi in it too.
    My vampire novel is a mix too. It's a mix of both paranormal romance and urban fantasy, mystery and some humor--I agree. I hate when "they" decide what we can/can't do. I think it's ridiculous--and I've been writing for 30 years!