Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Genre Confusion: Guest Post with Julie Flanders, author of POLAR NIGHT

Today we have a special treat! Julie Flanders, debut author of Polar Night, is here to talk about genre confusion. Take it away, Julie!

Genre Confusion

Even though my book Polar Night has been published and is now available thanks to the amazing people at Ink Smith Publishing, I confess that I still have no idea what genre it belongs in. 

The main character is a cop, but it’s not a police procedural and I don’t really think it would qualify as a mystery. A large part of the story takes place in a city and it has a significant paranormal factor, but I don’t think it would be considered urban fantasy. I definitely don’t think it fits into the fantasy category. I consider it a suspense story or a thriller, but I’m not sure if the paranormal factor precludes it from being categorized as suspense. Is paranormal suspense a genre? If so, I’m not aware of it. 

When I first started reading publishing advice in earnest, one of the main things I read about was that writers should imagine what shelves their book would be on in the bookstore. I browsed Barnes & Noble and found myself nearly having a panic attack because my book didn’t seem to fit anywhere. I almost didn't query it because I had no clue what to put as its genre. 

I sometimes wonder if we focus too much on genre. And, I can’t help but think that many books could fall into two or more categories. There are some books that fit neatly into categories such as mystery or science fiction, but I would guess that there are just as many that don’t. 

Have you read books that straddle the line between different genres? For the writers reading this, have you ever struggled to pick a genre for one of your books?  

Thank you, Cherie for having me as your guest today!

You're welcome, Julie! And I, for one, have had cases of genre confusion or a story that mixes genres, so I feel your pain. I have no problem with you calling your book a paranormal thriller or suspense. :)

Also, Julie is hosting a giveaway on her blog, so be sure to stop by to enter.

When Detective Danny Fitzpatrick leaves his hometown of Chicago and moves to Fairbanks, Alaska he wants nothing more than to escape the violence and heartbreak that left his life in pieces. Numbed by alcohol and the frozen temperatures of an Alaskan winter, Danny is content with a dead-end job investigating Fairbanks' cold cases. That all changes when a pretty blond woman goes missing on the winter solstice, and Danny stumbles upon some surprising connections between her disappearance and that of another Fairbanks woman three years earlier. Forced out of his lethargy, Danny sets out to both find the missing woman and solve his own cold case.

The investigation points Danny towards Aleksei Nechayev, the handsome and charming proprietor of an old asylum turned haunted tourist attraction in the Arctic town of Coldfoot. As he tries to find a link between Nechayev and his case, Danny's instinct tells him that Nechayev is much more than what he seems.

Danny has no idea that Nechayev is hiding a secret that is much more horrifying than anything he could ever have imagined. As his obsession with finding the missing women grows, Danny finds his own life in danger. And when the truth is finally revealed, the world as he knows it will never be the same.

To Purchase: Amazon US / UK

Julie Flanders is a librarian and a freelance writer who has written for both online and print publications. She is an avid animal lover and shares her home in Cincinnati, Ohio with her dog and cat. Her debut novel Polar Night, a suspense thriller with a supernatural twist, is now available from Ink Smith Publishing. Find Julie online at her blog, and on Twitter, Goodreads, and Facebook.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I knew the overall genre of my book when I was writing it, but not the specifics. I'd never even heard the phrase space opera before!

Trisha said...

Yeah, I am always struggling with genre! And sounds like mine are usually a fair bit more cut and dry than POLAR NIGHT, and yet I still have trouble!

Can't wait to read your book Julie :)

Rusty Carl said...

Alex never heard of Space Opera before starting CassaFire? Whaaaaa?!?

Polar night sounds awesome, I love mysteries, I love detective novels, I love spec fic... surely there is something in that novel that is calling my name. I'll be getting my copy.

Unknown said...

So thrilled to see Julie/Polar Night out and about! :-) I totally agree that we focus too much on genre. Don't get me wrong; whether you self-publish or traditional publish, at some point you'll need to make a basic determination about where your story fits. (If you go trad, you might not make that decision, but someone will.)

However, there are such large umbrellas in publishing now, it'll fit somewhere. My philosophy? Write the best story you can, figure out where it goes later. :-)

Congrats again Julie!

Laura Eno said...

As someone who proudly writes cross-genre, I feel your pain. I think too much focus is put on that sometimes, trying to narrow it down to one choice. If paranormal suspense isn't a catagory, it should be!

Nigel G Mitchell said...

Genre really is just a label and it bleeds all the time. Check the romance rack and you'll find paranormal and science fiction stories. Check scifi and you'll find romance and detective fiction. I would say to categorize it by the dominant theme.

S.A. Larsenッ said...

Yes, Julie, I have read books that straddle genres. Heck, mine does. But I agree with Nigel. It's merely a label to target an audience.

Julie Flanders said...

@Alex, I feel better knowing you didn't know about space operas, I'm not alone then. You sure wrote a great one for not knowing about the genre!

@Trisha, thank you so much!!

@Rusty, LOL, I am in the same boat as Alex. Thank you so much, I appreciate your interest in the book!

@EJ, I think you have the right philosophy there. Thank you!!

@Laura, I think it should be too! Maybe it is and I just don't know it LOL.

@Nigel, that's so true about the bleeding back and forth between genres. Thanks again for your good wishes on my blog!

@Sheri, good point, and of course targeting an audience is obviously important. Thanks for your comments!

Thanks again Cherie for having me here, I so appreciate it!

Empty Nest Insider said...

I agree with EJ's advice Julie. You already put your whole heart into this, and everything else will follow.

Jack said...

I've wondered this as well. Books I read could fit into many different genres. And everyone makes it sound deathly important that we know which our books will fit into. But sometimes, often, it isn't that easy.

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

I agree with you! I'm so lost when describing genre for my own stories and it's wonderful to meet someone who feels the same way! *hugs to Julie. We should invent a new genre and call it "amazeballs books" and just say our writing fits in that genre. I wonder if we could get everyone on board. Hmmm

Annalisa Crawford said...

I think far too much emphasis is put on genre - I can understand the reason, but sometimes it's just not practical.

Luanne G. Smith said...

Yep, I've always thought my novels fall into a sort of genre No Man's Land. I call them speculative fiction, but that's only because they are set in the future.

I actually think readers are okay with cross-over in genre and couldn't care less. It's just the agents and editors who have a heart attack over it, because they believe they have to have a pre-packaged entity that's ready for consumption.

Julie Flanders said...

@Julie, thank you!

@Jack, it really isn't, I totally agree.

@Michael, hugs back to you! I will join your new genre LOL.

@Annalisa, agreed!

@LG, I think you are totally right about readers. And I'm glad I'm definitely not the only one in this no-man's land. :)

Christine Rains said...

Paranormal suspense works for me too. Certainly it would be a sub-genre! Usually I know what I'm writing as I'm pretty focused on paranormal romance. Though I do understand the frustration and the anxiety of wanting to find the exact fit.

Michelle Wallace said...

Today, too much emphasis is placed on categorizing stories...
Why can't writers be allowed to write a good solid story from the gut WITHOUT stressing about what genre it falls into?

Tyrean Martinson said...

Way to go Julie!!! I would definitely say Paranormal Suspense based on the description, even if there isn't a bookshelf for that.

I have a tough time with genres, although my current novel fits into a specific area pretty well . . .or at least two.

Cathy Keaton said...

The need to figure out your book's genre comes from the book sellers' need to know where to put your book on their shelves. But, with the advent of ebooks taking out a large chunk of overall book sales, it may not be as needed as all that anymore. Although, with the huge number of books to buy, there is a need for organization.

If you have some cool new genre, or genre blend, then you're lucky! You can blaze a trail in the industry and that's amazing. Good luck with Polar Night. ;)

DMS said...

I think it is cool that the book is such a mix of genres. I have been wanting to read it since I first saw the cover. I love it! Can't wait to read it!

Unknown said...

Very good point Julie. I have struggled with this issue. Like others mentioned, it is just a label for a target audience, so I try not to dwell on it.

Hope you are having an awesome week Cherie :)

Brinda said...

I love cross genre books. I have a variety of tastes and like the mix of things I love in one book.

Julie Flanders said...

@Christine, yeah, I think it would be a great to have that as a sub-genre. I know I would love books in this category!

@Michelle, I totally agree!

@Tyrean, thank you!

@Cathy, that's a good point about ebooks, I wonder if that will change the system at all. Although as a librarian I totally understand about the need for organization so I guess I shouldn't fuss about it. Oh, I did think about being a trailblazer LOL. Thank you!

@Jess, oh, that's awesome, thank you!

@Emilyann, thanks again, I'm so glad to meet you!

@Brinda, that's how I feel as well. I've always loved all different genres.

Melissa said...

Sounds to me like paranormal suspense or paranormal crime thriller. Whatever you decide to call it, it sounds interesting. :)