Nothing drives me crazier than fiction genres.
Establishing the correct pigeon-hole for my own work is hard enough, but trawling through the minefield of genres attached to books I want to read is more complex than visiting eight cities in a single day, I imagine – not that I’ve ever tried it.
I’ll tell you something, I’ve got a few bones to pick with whoever came up with “SFF”, “Vampire Romance” and “Speculative Fiction” – and let’s not forget “Weird Fiction” is a sub-genre of “Speculative Fiction”. Confused? Try working out if you’d rather read “Steampunk” or “Splatterpunk”, “Cosmic Horror” or “Paranormal Fantasy”. In the literary world, writers also get to contend with the likes of “Popular Fiction”, “Commercial Fiction”, “Women’s Fiction” (whatever the hell that is!) and, if those beauties didn’t twist your brain cells into rope, “Genre Fiction”, my personal favourite.
One book agent (those decent folks who get the stuff us creatives churn out all neat, tidy and properly published) says she had a writer who got so stumped by the process of categorising her book that she invented her own genre and pitched it as part of her book proposal, which is a bit far, to be honest, but then again, I think it shows inventive spirit and what’s a writer if they’re not innovative?
So, to overcome the mania, I’m inventing my own genres, too, mainly to get rid of all the books I’d never read in a month of Sundays.
First up, “Housewife Fiction”. You know the kind of stuff. Pink covers, fluffy rugs, how to cook champagne soufflés and bring up eighteen teenagers, all that glamour in a teacup. It’s not my thing. I’m wild at heart and that heart is dark. I like exploring Gothic architecture, reading sharp psychological thrillers, laughing wildly at rip-roaring comedy and wearing black t-shirts at rock festivals. What about “Summer Fiction”, my new umbrella sweepstake for all the schmaltzy, namby-pamby love stories that litter the beach every July? Or “Cathartic Fiction”, the new self-help moniker. Don’t get me wrong, there are some seriously inspiration self-help tomes out there, but “Feeling Better About Your Big Bottom” could do with a wide berth (*cough*).
Where did it all start and where will it end? Do you want to suggest your own brand new genre? Maybe we should club together and devise the ultimate solution: the “No-Genre Fiction Book Genre” – although, I’m guessing the publishers will want a less complex name for it.