Changing Genres?

‘Genre’ is what defines a writer, or does it? Should a writer be confined to write in one genre? Is it risky for an author to change the genre that he or she writes in?

I, for one, am one author who has changed my genre–from historical fiction to contemporary YA suspense. I know that there are several authors who do not write in one genre. Some write in more than two genres, yet, I have wanted to hear from other authors about what they feel about changing genres. So, I have contacted three authors–Aimee Laine, Michael Murphy and Dannye Williamsen.

Aimee Laine has written several novels in the paranormal romance genre. Her latest novel Little White Lies was released on July 1, 2011.

Michael Murphy is an award winning author. His latest book, Scorpian Bay–a contemporary suspense–was released in April 2011.

Dannye Williamsen is an author and owner of the Breakthrough Bookstore, an online bookstore dedicated to promoting self-published authors and authors of non-fiction books.

Here is what they had to say…

What do you think about writing novels in two or more genres?

Aimee: I think it’s great for people who like to write a variety of stories.

Dannye: As a writer I think you should write in whatever genre your muse leads you.

Michael: I would encourage writers to consider crossing genres.

What if the perfect story comes to you, but it isn’t within the genre that you normally write in?

Aimee: Then I’d have to consider it, however, I truly believe, for me, that it would morph into a romance. I always called myself a people photographer when people asked me what kind of photographer I was. I’m a writer of people, too. I love the dynamics of a relationship and seeing that to fruition. But my stories aren’t just about that. They are mysterious, thrilling, suspenseful, etc. I love mixing and intertwining, but I call them romance because ultimately, it’s still the story of how two people got together.

Michael: I am facing this now. I’ve had seven novels published, six are the types of books I like to read, mystery and suspense with a touch of humor. About a year ago, I was inspired by a combination of factors to write a novel about about people now who attended Woodstock. People who’ve enjoyed my mysteries, will also enjoy Goodbye Emily, because it has humor throughout like my mysteries. In a mystery, the plot moves along with a hero trying to solve the crime. My challenge was to move the plot along without this device I’m so used to.

Would you switch your genre if you felt compelled to?

Aimee: Yes, but see above. I think they’ll morph for me. I do, however, switch age groups. I write for both Adult and YA … which takes a completely different ‘tact’ and feel to it. In fact I write 3rd person for Adult and 1st person for YA. It sets apart the style of writing and the type.

Dannye: If I felt “compelled to,” my answer would be that it depends on what was compelling me. If the pressure was coming from an outside force, I would not. If the pressure was coming from within me, I would certainly make an effort to see if something would come of it.

In terms of readers and book sales, do you think that changing genres is risky?

Aimee: It’s only risky if you want to think of it as such. I believe we make our own successes and if the story you want to tell is one that’s different than what you ‘normally’ do, you’ll just build another following and perhaps inspire your own fan base to read something new.

Dannye:In terms of readers and book sales being affected by an author switching genres, I think it’s highly possible which is why some authors use pen names when they switch genres. That said, I doubt I would write under a different name.There are always readers who understand that writers work with words and stories and that genres are just a convenient means of categorizing books, not pigeon-holing writers. If some readers are so anxious to put me or anyone else in a particular pigeon-hole, that is their problem, not mine.

Michael: I’m confident that I’ve succeeded, so I would encourage writers to consider crossing genres and see what they can accomplish.

Deanna Proach is a freelance writer for website builder. She is also the author of the historical fiction, Day of Revenge and To be Maria, a YA book (currently unpublished).