Genre-Blending: Is It Safe?
I’ve sub-titled my website “Genre Blending Fun” because I’m not afraid to embrace my indecision. I mean my complexity as a person. I understand the marketing appeal of a genre. It’s easy to know your target audience and their expectations–and meet them. But what if your audience is like me and wants the unexpected? I am a complex person whose interests range from sci-fi and fantasy to mystery, horror, thrillers, paranormal romance and more. I even like to read the classics. Dickens anyone? Plato? I know too much genre-blending would make anyone motion sick, but how much can you take before you need to get off the ride?
Once upon a time the paranormal romance genre didn’t exist. Harlequin format was the standard. That has changed in a big way.
Who would have thought a sci-fi Western could work? Many people like me were happily surprised by Firefly and Serenity and became avid fans.
Dean R. Koontz and the supernatural thriller introduced me to a genre that I once only associated with nuclear weapon threats and male characters who knew their gun parts.
Now one of my favorites, which is a shameless plug for my new Eva Thorne series, is the fantasy/mystery mash up. The fantasy/hard-boiled detective combination to be more precise for those who know their mystery sub-genres. I was introduced to this with Glen Cook’s Garret PI series. Like most people, Cook’s weird and wacky cover art threw me off at first, but the stories themselves were engaging and fun. I love fun!
Now I’ve written one of my own–with a twist. The femme fatale turned detective. Plus there’s a touch of Steampunk (Arcanum to be specific if you’re a video game lover), a touch of romance, a touch of humor, and a touch of horror–the being locked in a room with an almost-zombie sort, so don’t worry, I’m sure you can take it.
I think the mystery and detective formats work well as the plot structure in a number of genres. Look at Kim Harrison’s Hallow series or Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. The protagonist may not declare themselves a ‘detective’ but that’s what they are. These stories focus on an intriguing main character presented with obstacles and clues that require a bit of thought and a lot of footwork to deal with. This is a departure from the journey/quest-focused plot of classic high fantasy. Which I also love by the way.
What mash ups have you enjoyed reading or watching? Did you realize they were breaking genre taboos? Did you care?
Thanks for reading! More posts on books, film, and writing can be found on my website at Lorel Clayton Author.