One question genre writers get asked often is, "Why do you write in (insert) genre?" Sometimes the person shows a clear distain for the genre or genre fiction in general. Some feel similarly but are better at hiding it at first. A few are jaded and skeptical, certain you only picked your genre for the "built in market" it has, and others are genuine in their curiosity.
It's not always a question that's easy to answer.
I'm sure a few have written a specific genre, or more often sub-genre, because it was fairing well in the market at the time. However, most of the other writers I've spoken with don't. The market shifts and changes faster than most of us can produce quality work, so what's the point?
More often than not, a writer's chosen genre is the result of their interests and passions. Just like unmentioned factors in a character's background can influence the way an author writes them, our lives and interests influence our creativity and how it's expressed. Their genuine interest in the source material shines through and impacts the voice they use when telling it.
When I first started writing, years and years before I first submitted anything to the slush, I tried a bit of everything. I flitted from fantasy to horror to mystery to science fiction. I played around with poetry, lyrics, picture books, young adult, and middle grade. I even attempted a few romance stories, general fiction, and humor. Even though I enjoy all of these types of writing, science fiction and fantasy prose proved to be the genres I found most natural and did the best writing.
Looking back, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.
My parents introduced me to science fiction and fantasy back before I can remember. In fact, one of my earliest memories is of being devastated they were removing the old Star Trek: The Original Series reruns from our channels to replace it with some new series that wouldn't have Mr. Spock. My favorite weekends were the ones where my parents were off work because they'd join my brother and I watching cartoons, particularly the old series centering around Marvel heroes and Looney Toons.
I've spent countless hours reading fairytales and myths and lore, both new and ancient. I'm fascinated by the different Fae species, Seelie and Unseelie. Mythical beasts and fantastic creatures from all over the globe are no less interesting in my mind, and the similarities and differences between the stories capture my imagination all the time.
I'm a frustrated wannabe scientist. Despite my literary goals, I started college as a chemistry major. Oh, how I wanted to be a real life Pyrha Daedalus and work toward curing diseases! Unfortunately, I hit my wall dealing with dyscalculia in calculus and the more complicated chemical equations. There comes a point when, for someone like me who inverts numbers around decimals and fractions, double checking causes more errors than it fixes. I'd perform the steps correctly, but I'd write the numbers down wrong and end up with the wrong solution because of it almost every time.
My dream of working in a biochemical lab died my freshman year of college, but I never lost the interest. When I have free moments, I keep up with advances in science. I love reading scientific articles, and the possibilities they present spark my imagination every time.
Out of curiosity, I attempted to write a general fiction piece for Flash Fiction Friday last week. The prompt fit, and I wanted to see if I could now after years of writing. I could. I had a workable plot. However, it felt flat, predictable, and boring. I wasn't into writing it. It didn't excite me at all, and it wasn't an article I was hired to write.
So I deleted all but the first paragraph and a half and started again. I shifted the family's move from one town to another to an unnamed planet to small town USA. Instead of a middle school girl looking for friends and acceptance, I made the protagonist an adolescent alien. They're small changes, but they made a difference.
What is fiction but "heightened" reality created to entertain? Time gets condensed down to just the important bits, and the tiniest details jump out at the reader. Genre fiction adds another layer. Each has its own tropes and cliches, and that serves to make each story's unique elements stand out all the more.
Why genre fiction? It encompasses my interests and compliments my personality and voice. It feels like home.
A. B. England is a small business owner, mom of two, novelist, all around geek, and avid crafter. She loves mythology, fantasy, and all flavors of science fiction.
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