Back in November I was in Chicago visiting family. As you know from previous blog pots, my niece Shea, is a big reader who puts even the consummate bookworms, my sister and me, to shame. I usually find her engrossed in very thick books more appropriate for a high-school-er than a third-grader!
One night after dinner, homework time arrived. Shea was working on a book report. She waltzed out of her bedroom with a book and it looked quite lean for my niece’s taste. I said, “Shea, isn’t that book a little too thin for you?” Her response, “I have to write a book report and I was limited by genre.” The book was The Mystery of Lilac Inn. Apparently more advanced mysteries are not appropriate for her 8-year old malleable mind.
“I was limited by genre.” Does that not make you laugh? First, I was shocked at the seriousness of her tone and then, knowing youth today, I was shocked that the term “genre” was in her vocabulary even though I use the word on a daily basis! Hey, maybe she’ll grow up to be a book publicist! An aunt can dream!
And it got me thinking, do we all limit ourselves by genre? Would you categorize yourself as a reader of thrillers, crime fiction, romance or literary novels only, please? If you are an author do you stick to one genre or are you able to write each new novel with fresh eyes and limitless creativity? I am always fascinated by authors that seem to be able to effortlessly straddle the genre lines. Their voice is apparent in each new novel, though the subject matter and genre may vary wildly! How do they do that?
As many of you know, I recently did a promotion for Kent Harrington, Libby Fischer Hellmann and Pascal Marco for a free Kindle Fire. Contestants were required to read one book by each author and post reviews on Amazon of each title. All three are thriller authors-yet all very unique. Some contestants couldn’t get enough and read other works by these three stars. Some of those readers I would categorize them as “thriller readers” and some more as “literary.” A few readers/contestants didn’t like the books – didn’t take to them, and I could only speculate that these folks were “limited by genre”- i.e. they’re not your average thriller reader – or at least not as open to that genre as others. I consider all three titles to be high quality pieces of work so perhaps, as Shea so eloquently put it, they were “limited by genre.”
It is important to reach the reader. And when discussing genre, authors (and publicists) must try to reach the ones that DO like their specific genre. That said, we also must spend time trying to reach new readers – those who don’t limit themselves by genre and take after Shea who is bright-eyed and bushy tailed and has an open mind to each new book, as if each is a new adventure.
What’s Shea Reading?
Since then Shea has read The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan, War Horse by Michael Morporgo (apparently the movie is not appropriate for an 8 year old but the book is) and The Horse and his Boy (Narnia) by C.S. Lewis. My sister might have the highest book expense bill in a 100 mile radius of her home. Sometimes the library doesn’t cut it.