Today I have the pleasure of handing over my blog over to author of YA fantasy A Kingdom's Possesion, Nicole J. Persun to talk about authors being pigeon-holed into one genre.
Cross Your Genre, Hope to Die
Readers like to assume that writers tend to stay within their own genre, just like many actors tend to get typecast in stride with their most famous characters. However, writers are versatile creatures who, just like actors, are capable of branching out. In fact, it’s commendable for a writer to step outside their “usual” work. When a writer practices poetry, flash fiction, short stories, novellas, and novels across all genres, they are stretching their abilities to create better work. For example, writing literary fiction might help an author’s character development in their fantasy novel. And writing thrillers will help their ability to build suspense and tension within their historical fiction works. Writing short stories helps tighten scenes within larger pieces, and writing poetry makes the prose more intentional and effective in fiction.
The tricky part is that readers like their authors to be typecast. It’s predictable, it’s handy, and it makes for no surprises when you pick up a book by your favorite author. That’s why many writers use pseudonyms for each of their many published genres, because they are always being encouraged by publishers to stay within their chosen genre, and to only choose one. Just like the old children’s oath, “Cross your heart, hope to die,” we writers feel strong pressures of the notion, “cross your genre, hope to die.” We are expected to take a singular-genre oath. But, just as actors wiggle free of their typecasts, there are a few writers nowadays who have built enough trust in their readers enough to write what they want. The beauty is that readers become loyal and read whatever their beloved favorite authors write, and don’t we all want fans that are that trusting, that willing to experiment along with us?
I’m the kind of reader who will try anything. I write in fantasy, and love fantasy writers like Jo Graham, George R.R. Martin, Tolkien, Guy Gavriel Kay, Janet Lee Carey, and Sharon Shinn. But I also love reading the magic-realism books by Alice Hoffman. And C.C. Humphreys’ historical fiction novels. And Lily Tuck’s literary novel, I Married You for Happiness. I like Hemmingway, Steinbeck, Vonnegut, and Shakespeare. I like poetry. I like nonfiction on world history, and books on writing by Priscilla Long, Orson Scott Card, and Stephen King. I am not a typecast reader, by any means.
Nor am I a typecast writer. Although my novel, A Kingdom’s Possession, is a young adult fantasy, I do not limit myself to writing only fantasy. I write contemporary and historical short stories. I write lots of poetry. And by writing across my genres, I strengthen my skills in writing fantasy novels. I am on a mission to find an audience that accepts all my work; I will be taking no “cross my genre” oath.
Thank you, Nicole, for such an awesome guest post! Nicole J. Persun is a fantasy writer who lives in Port Townsend, Washington. She’s currently going to Goddard College for a degree in Creative Writing, and is on the board of the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association as Student Liaison. Her debut novel, A Kingdom’s Possession, was a finalist for ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year Award in the fantasy category. She often speaks at libraries, writer’s groups, and writer’s conferences across the country. For more information, visit Nicole’s website Or “like” her page on facebook.