Tag Archives: genre mish-mash

Genre Frappé

All month long, the Fictorians have been posting articles on mixing several genres together to make a book more interesting or to entice a wider audience. Here are two outside-the-mainstream ideas for you to consider.

Erotic Genre Mixing

If you’re comfortable writing and marketing erotica, you should consider combining it with the different genres. There are plenty of straight-forward erotic encounters between all kinds of individuals to choose from in the eBook marketplace. There are, however, smaller niches where your mixing in different genres can bring in more readers.

This isn’t a new idea by far. Even in genres such as Westerns, there have been plenty of years-long ongoing series that featured plenty of explicit sex between the characters. A good example is the Jake Logan series based on a man named John Slocum. Considered an Adult Western, it had by formula three explicit sexual encounters per novel. The series was penned by multiple authors under the Jake Logan pseudonym, and it ran for over four hundred novels.

The idea of the adult-oriented genre novel is a relatively unexplored niche. Writing a Space Marine novel series? You could have the teams be chaste and virginal as they sling lead or energy beams around, or you can add in some adult interactions as one would expect in a more realistic lifestyle. Maybe the protagonist falls in love with an underground freedom fighter, only to discover they were a spy all along. The adult interactions between the characters will create a bond that is far more heartbreaking and emotional than if they were friendly acquaintances when the truth comes out.

If you decide to go this route, it is important that you indicate the adult content in the marketing material. Some people prefer have a sex-free reading experience, and if you have a surprise orgy halfway through the book, you might get hit by poor reviews.

Non-Fiction Blended with Genre Fiction

This is another under-represented area that is open for exploitation by a savvy author. The most common mix for this is known as Alternate History, where the author sets up actual historical events and adds in a “What If?” event that veers from what actually occurred.

For example, did you know that there was an actual Emperor of the United States? Emperor Norton I lived in San Francisco and declared himself the Emperor plus the Protector of Mexico in 1859. The citizens of San Francisco loved him and his “official” decrees, and many dignitaries stopped by to say hello. Now imagine writing a story where the United States government was overthrown and he was actually elevated to political power. How would life be different now?

You can combine plenty of ideas with different genres to create some unique combinations. One good example was an anthology edited by Fictorian Travis Heermann called Cthulhu Passant. This charity project combined Lovecraftian horror with the game of chess. Each story had both elements, and at the back of the anthology the editor appended a quick primer on chess moves and terminology.

If there is something you are proficient in, consider marrying it to one of the genres to create something new. William Gibson combined science fiction with marketing in his novel Pattern Recognition. The movie The Last Starfighter combined arcade-based video games and science fiction. Consider combining what you do for a day job or hobby and how it can be tossed into a blender to make a delicious Genre Frappé.



About the Author:DeMarco_Web-5963

Guy Anthony De Marco is a disabled US Navy veteran speculative fiction author; a Graphic Novel Bram Stoker Award® nominee; winner of the HWA Silver Hammer Award; a prolific short story and flash fiction crafter; a novelist; an invisible man with superhero powers; a game writer (Sojourner Tales modules, Interface Zero 2.0 core team, third-party D&D modules); and a coffee addict. One of these is false.
A writer since 1977, Guy is a member of the following organizations: SFWA, WWA, SFPA, IAMTW, ASCAP, RMFW, NCW, HWA. He hopes to collect the rest of the letters of the alphabet one day. Additional information can be found at Wikipedia and GuyAnthonyDeMarco.com.

The Thin Line between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance

sinsofthesonWhen I’m looking for urban fantasy in the bookstores or online, I also check under paranormal romance.  Some of my favourite urban fantasy authors—including Linda Poitevin (The Grigori Legacy) and Carrie Vaughn (The Kitty Norville series)—often end up filed there.

What is paranormal romance?  It’s a romance—a story that focuses on a romantic relationship developing between two characters—which also features paranormal elements, such as shapeshifters, magic-users, ghosts, vampires, psychic powers, cryptid monsters and the like.

What is urban fantasy?  It’s a fantasy story—a story containing magical, mythical and/or supernatural elements—set in a modern, contemporary world.  While these stories usually take place in a city, the opposite of “urban fantasy” isn’t a story with a modern rural setting; the opposite is the entirely fictitious worlds of most high fantasies.    In short, urban fantasy is a fantasy story set in a world that is very much like our “real world.”

From these definitions, it’s easy to see where a crossover can occur.  If your paranormal romance also takes place in a modern setting, rather than in a wholly imaginary landscape or a historical setting, then your paranormal romance is also an urban fantasy.  And if your urban fantasy has a strong romantic subplot that rivals the main plot, or if the romance elements are critical to the main plot, then it may be very close to becoming a paranormal romance.

So what’s the difference?  The romance genre has a number of conventions and expectations.  The fantasy genre has entirely different conventions (such as “we want to see things we don’t see in “the real world,” often “we want there to be magic,” that sort of thing.)  Its conventions with regard to character relationships are much looser.

Romance readers usually expect a happy ending.  (And those romances  that don’t guarantee a happy ending, like Dreamspinner Press’s “Bittersweet Dreams,” are often branded so readers know what they’re in for before they start to read).   Readers want the hero and heroine to get together.  They want sexual tension to blossom into an actual relationship, and they want that relationship to work out, at least until the end of the story (“Happy For Now”) if not forever (“Happily Ever After.”)  They want the romance to be foregrounded.  While plenty of paranormal romances incorporate action, horror, mystery, and suspense elements, the developing relationship is always at the heart of the plot.

Urban fantasy, meanwhile, isn’t obligated to include romance in any way.  Some writers do:  romantic relationships developing between characters can make compelling subplots.  Unlike in romance-the-genre, the romance is usually not the main plot.  But sometimes these relationships don’t result in happy endings.  The sexual tension isn’t acted upon.  Or the characters break up.  Or one of them dies—or is revealed to be a villain.  These are perfectly legitimate plot points for fantasies, but they are likely to disappoint romance readers who expected a certain kind of story when they picked the book up.

Needless to say, things can get complicated when your publisher wants to play up the romance elements of your urban fantasy book, particularly if you don’t consider yourself a romance writer.  Or when bookstores keep filing your urban fantasy book under “paranormal romance” when you haven’t written a romance-centered plot with a happy ending.

Why don’t I find Harlequin Nocturnes in the fantasy section very often?  Possibly because of the branding.  Harlequin is a well-known romance name, so it’s natural that people would file Harlequin’s paranormal romance line with other romance novels.

Branding may be the best way to identify your urban fantasy as primarily fantasy rather than primarily romance.  If you’re traditionally publishing, the final choice will be your publisher’s, but if you’re self-publishing or your publisher allows your input, consider your cover carefully.  A shirtless man and a young woman staring into one another’s eyes screams “romance.”  Make your cover look like an urban fantasy cover, not like a romance cover.  Choose excerpts that emphasize the magic, the action, the horror or the mystery elements of your story rather than the romantic ones.

Some confusion isn’t all bad.  Romance sells very well.  Many people find romantic elements very appealing in their fiction.  If your urban fantasy has a strong romantic subplot, you may benefit from emphasizing it.  But if you’ve written an urban fantasy with a lead who isn’t interested in romance, or a villain that makes the hero fall for her before revealing her true nature and breaking his heart, maybe you want to do what you can to help romance-loving readers know what they’re getting into.