Thursday, 5 November 2009

A Question of Genre – is it vexed?

I am sure many writers, agents and publishers can quote chapter and verse at me on the thorny issue of genre; it is commercially vital to brand and pigeonhole books so that potential readers know what they are getting. Targeting and demographics are key.

So ‘modern/contemporary fiction’, as per BIC classification for ‘non-genre’ novels, does not perhaps cut the mustard. But what if your novel is neither romance, crime, sci-fi, historical, fantasy, erotic, thriller, nor literary? Not adventure, saga, chick-lit, grit-lit or whatever term is knocking around at the time? Nor is it the more esoteric metafiction or allegory? Perhaps it is a cross-breed, like historical romance. But if it cannot claim to fall under any such labels, does this mean it should never have been written? If so, is this not the tail wagging the dog?

A reader described Gypsies Stop tHere: “…a good read, this story provides an entertaining way of understanding a very important social issue ...” Well, is there a genre that covers this? I don’t know. Socio-rural reality page-turner? Prejudice-challenging fiction? Or perhaps simply ‘other’.

Focusing on the Gypsy theme, an academic writer recently said, “Miriam Wakerly's books Gypsies Stop tHere and No Gypsies Served (coming out March 2010) are a window to the bigotry that a race of people in the UK still experience. Textbooks illustrating statistics of what racism is like are all well and good but what Wakerly adds is an accessible and readable 'way in' to the situation for the general reader, and the storytelling approach reinforces we are talking about real people here, not statistics. I would recommend that people read these books as a reflection of the reality of contemporary Britain.”

This all sounds terribly grave but there are many other happenings within my pages, I promise you! Relationships and various interconnecting storylines in an English village seem to ‘captivate’ a wide-ranging readership, so they tell me.

I could define my novels as a ‘village-novel-with-edge’ or something like that. It’s not Miss Read or Rebecca Shaw. I cannot think of a word that single-handedly encapsulates it. Can you? If so, please let me know!

If anyone wants to quote from this blog then that’s fine but please credit me! Thanks.

© Miriam Wakerly

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