“You’re mixing genres.”
This wasn’t said to me as a negative. It was an observation from an editor when I had the initial draft of my first novel assessed. At the time, I didn’t realise this was such a big deal. Cinema had made an art of combining genres for a long time. Surely, literature was equally as experimental.
But when I described this novel as a romance, I was chastised by a commissioning editor at a literary festival. I had some learning to do.
So many GLBT authors are pigeonholed as Romance Writers.
And this really does seem odd. Another Australian writer friend of mine comes across this all the time. He never writes romance, yet with the explosion of male to male romance books available, he’s often introduced at festivals as a romance writer.
I grew up finding queer characters in books released through larger publishing houses, so to me, genre was irrelevant. Gays appeared in thrillers, in contemporary settings, in space, in mysteries, and pretty much anywhere a writer wanted to put them.
And with more gay writing out there, we’ll show up in any genre at any time.
Authors keep writing the same book as their readers like to know what to expect.
That was the advice given to an Australian author by a US agent. Really? There’s no way I can read the same genre over and over again. And I’m sure many Americans don’t. It’s boring. Variety is the spice of life!
Yet when my more traditional Romance novella, Nate and the New Yorker, was released, there were several critiques that went against the grain of most of the reviews. These were from American Genre Nazis.
How dare there be a twist? I wasn’t expecting this twist! Where was the sex? I was expecting sex!
Critique should never be about what something isn’t.
As a friend studying painting told me ages ago, art is judged on whether the creator’s intention was realised.
And whether that’s in a horror spiced up with comedy, sci-fi blended with magical realism, or historical fiction with a contemporary twist, don’t expect someone to fall in love just because several characters are gay.
There’s going to be new queer writers as more find their voice, and just as gay literature has shown, it won’t be all about two guys who like each other but something is holding them back from their potential happy ever after.
Something fresh is always best!