At a recent event, I had someone ask me why I decided to write cross-genre. It’s a great question. Except I didn’t decide to. It just happened. Relics was my first novel and I had no idea I was writing cross-genre. In fact, if you had asked what genre I was writing, I would have stopped dead and looked at you in great surprise.
“Fantasy?” I might have answered. “Modern fantasy?”
A version of this is exactly what happened internally when I stumbled across something that said authors should know their genres. I was researching how to do agent query letters, when advice said to include the genre. What? Genre? Oh my god! Genre had not even crossed my mind at that point. What was I to do?
Well, I started researching genres, but quickly realized I didn’t fit in one nice, neat little box!
Had I messed up? Was my new baby a disaster? Well, actually it had a lot wrong with it, and I ended up dumping the second half of the novel and completely rewriting it. But that’s another story. Back to the genre thing.
I decided I’d use “urban fantasy” and “paranormal,” interchangeably. Maybe no one would notice I used both, I told myself. Maybe I could appeal to both kinds of readers.
But during my internet travels, I happened to stumble over the term “cross-genre.” My heart sang! I was cross-genre. I had a box to fit in!
Yes, my brothers and sisters, there was actually a term for what I did. I wasn’t the freak I’d felt like when chatting with author friends who had their comfortable niches. The ones I secretly envied when they tossed out genres like mystery, romance or historical. I could stand up with pride and announce that I was…a librarian…wait no…that was a movie.
My work was cross-genre. I held my head up and embraced my new designation with love – and relief. I no longer worried that I had elements of science fiction in my series. Elements that I hadn’t even admitted to yet because I was already crossing fantasy with paranormal mystery and adding in a third (fourth?) genre was wrong. Right? Aha! But was it?
By the time Portals was out, I was firmly admitting to not two, but three genres! I proudly claimed my urban fantasy / sci fi / paranormal label. And Magics is so firmly crossing all three it can be nothing but cross-genre.
And so I say to you, those who are troubled out there in the dark, those afraid because you don’t belong in one lovely, safe genre: Embrace your inner cross-genre.
Your romance has horror in it? No problem!
Your adventure has fantasy? Love it!
Your sci fi is also mystery? Go for it! (Besides Asimov himself did this! All the way back in the last century this master of Sci Fi crossed genres into mysteries.)
Let the story fly where it will and just enjoy the journey.