What’s it all about?
The first thing that most agents, publishers and booksellers ask when they hear you’ve written, are writing or planning to write a novel is, ‘What’s the genre?’
It’s a fair question. Genre defines readership. Publishers want to know what the market is, who is likely to buy a book; booksellers want to know whether to stock it and which shelf to put it on, Amazon wants to know whereabouts in the Kindle Store it goes. And for some writers it’s a simple matter. They have made their careers by writing a particular style of book – for example, Stephen King, John Grisham, E.L.James – so a reader knows what to expect when they pick up one of their titles. Some become so associated with a particular genre that in order to branch out and create something different they need a new persona. When J.K.Rowling wanted to write some crime stories she brought them out under the name Robert Galbraith.
For some of us, however, it’s not so simple. We don’t sit down at our desks and say, ‘OK, I’m going to write a horror story,’ or ‘Now I’ll do a crime thriller.’. Instead we get ideas for a situation, a plot, a character and we start to work on those and see where they lead. Sometimes following that trail takes us to a place very different from where we began, or what we expected.
I don’t find it easy to say who my writing is for. Unlike Kerryl Shaw, the heroine of my novel Paradise Girl, I don’t have a particular reader in mind. In fact when I completed my first manuscript (The Poisoner’s Garden – so far unpublished) I had no idea of the genre – to be honest I hadn’t even thought about it – until Philip Womack (author of The Darkening Path trilogy) said he thought it was for young adults.
Kerryl is 17, so the obvious slot for Paradise Girl is Young Adult, or perhaps New Adult (a genre more common in the USA than here, intended to extend to a slightly older group than YA). However, my so far limited readership extends from teenagers, through college students, through adults with families to baby boomer retirees, and all have told me they have got something from it.
The people I hope will read and like my writing are people like me. No, let me rephrase that. The people I hope will read and enjoy Paradise Girl are … people like you!