Tuesday, May 18, 2010

On Genre Bending

For years I have been working on and off on a series that breaks so many genre rules that it isn't even funny. In the first book, most of the characters are between ages 17 and 19, which apparently is a no-no for adult romance, but I can't make it YA because they are older in subsequent books. So far I'm gonna call it an urban fantasy, though I don't know how well that'll end up working because eventually the series really begins to lean towards straight fantasy. Either way, there is a love story within every one.

This got me to thinking of other authors that broke the genre rules and made new genres. Laurell K. Hamilton, Lillith Saint Crow, and others pioneered Urban Fantasy. Amanda Ashley, Maggie Shayne, and more started paranormal romance.

Right now I'm reading Stephen King's Dark Tower series, and damn does it break a lot of rules. I love that it is similar to mine in that it blends urban fantasy with straight fantasy. Not only that, but the fourth novel, WIZARD AND GLASS, completely interrupts the storyline and is all back story. (I have mixed feelings about that one.) All over the place are connections to his other books, as if every story he wrote is part of an interlinked web.

Once you ignore that King is labelled a horror author, it is hard to nail down the genres of some of his stories. The Shawshank Redemption and The Body, to name a few are literary fiction, in my opinion. Really, where would The Dark Tower novels fit if they weren't written by a horror author? Fantasy? Urban Fantasy? Science Fiction? Is it a dystopian? How the hell would one query such an oddball series?

I await your thoughts.


  1. I'm actually in the process of rereading the Dark Towers series for the third time and, coincidentally, I'm in the midst of Wizard and Glass right now. It's my least fave of the series because of the back story issue you talked about. To me it interrupts the forward flow of the main arc and I have a real problem getting into it. Not that it's not good in itself, it's just not the main story, which is what I'm really interested in.

    And if I were to label the genre I'd call it dystopian western urbanish fantasy (hehe).

    I understand where you're coming from with the YA versus adult, too. My current romance trilogy sits on the razor's edge between. Originally I had written the main character as 18, but some CPs were squeamish about that age female as the MC of a romance. So I bumped her up to 20 - still young, but at least not teenager anymore. We'll see how it plays with subsequent CPs!

    Nice post!

  2. LOL, I wish I could bump up the ages of my characters, but that would destroy so many plot details in the first book.
    I agree. I wish Wizard and Glass could have been published either earlier or later, as a prequel.

  3. He's versatile. I remember reading The Eyes of the Dragon. It read like a kids' story for adults. I've read a few of the Dark Tower books. I need to finish that series.

  4. Despite the numerous times that I've tried, I've never managed to make it through one of the DT series.