Monday, May 21, 2012

Switching of genres: an evolution?

Hi everyone :)

how are you doing? Did you have a nice week-end? I hope you're getting as nice weather as I am! It's really gorgeous outside :) Sunny and not too hot - perfect really. So Saturday was my aunt's surprise party and she was surprised!! LOL, we were sure my uncle would give it away - he's not really good with keeping secrets and lying, but he pulled it off, so kudos to him :) LOL, my cousin thinks it's more like my aunt is naive... Could be a bit of both. I guess it did help my aunt's b-day is actually a month away.

The funny story of the evening was our gift to my aunt :) We actually bought her tickets for a show we knew she would enjoy on the week-end of June 15-16 (think Quebec's version of American Idol). We told my uncle, because we wanted to be sure it'd be a hit with her and also, to know which date would be better. Well turns out when my aunt saw the ads for the show, she asked if my uncle was interesting and my uncle said "No, no." You have to know my uncle: sweetest man on the face of Earth and he rarely says no LOL. So she thought my uncle and cousin was organizing something for her that week-end!! LOL, so now she knows why he said no :P What's funny is my uncle thought it was weird my aunt didn't argue more about going to see the show LOL. Now, everyone's happy :)

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Before I get to the main discussion topic, I'd like to give you a little update on my dilemma concerning which edition of Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong I was going to get. Remember? Well thanks to Li, I've finally made a decision  and... surprise, surprise, I'm going with the Canadian edition!!


Why you ask, when the Canadian cover was clearly my least favorite... and the weirdest? LOL. Well Li sent me a link from Ms Armstrong's forum about the cover and turns out that Random House has something really special planned!! Here are the details.

First, the edge is going to be dyed red and patterned to match this image:


LOL, I had to look up Jennie's post about Fun Book Vocabulary to ascertain what the edge was. If I'm not wrong, it's the pages on the side of a book. I wonder how thick the book is for it to be patterned with that image...

And then, the image imprinted on the actual book cover is the following:


This I really love!! If this had been the cover jacket, I would have gone with this one without a doubt :)  It still doesn't go with my other books covers, but I think it's pretty and the mood it conveys fits in my opinion.

And you'll have the cover jacket that we've all seen:


The neat thing though is apparently, the jacket will be in vellum, i.e. thin and semi-transparent, and therefore, the image imprinted on the cover will show faintly! As for the text on the cover jacket, it'll be silver and red. Obviously, it'd be better if we could see the effect right now, but so far it sounds really cool... And if it still doesn't work for me, I'll just remove the cover jacket :P

So problem solved!! And a big, big, big thank you and hug to Li for sending me the link! Otherwise, I would have pre-ordered the UK version! Thanks Li!!!

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So now, onto today's discussion topic :) Not too long ago, I asked what was your definition of Women's Fiction. Well the reason is I wonder if Women's Fiction is the natural evolution for authors who write contemporary romance. This is not the first time this question has popped up in my mind... and I decided this time, I'd asked for your thoughts :) However, it's much harder to put it into words than I expected!!

Basically, I was looking for new releases by authors that I enjoyed in the past and realized my list of authors seems to be shrinking. Or at least, the list of new releases by these authors is definitively not as long as it could be. And I realized that in a lot of cases, it's because the authors have changed genres. Let's take Susan Wiggs for example. She started off as a romance author... but I felt there was a definitive shift throughout her Lakeshore Chronicles series. Actually, she seems to waver back and forth in that series between contemporary romance and women's fiction... but if you look at her two last stand-alones, Just Breathe and The Goodbye Quilt, those two are definitively women's fiction. Another author that comes to mind is Barbara Delinsky. When I started reading, Ms Delinsky's career was already well-established and I think her transition into women's fiction/fiction had already started. My first and favorite book by Ms Delinsky is Three Wishes... I think it's contemporary romance, but her subsequent releases lean more and more into women's fiction realm. However, there is no doubt she started off in romance :) Proof: Wendy just reviewed The Forever Instinct which is being re-issued in e-book format. More recently, an another author that seems to be making the transition slowly is Susan Mallery. Oh, her Fool's Gold series is definitively contemporary romance, but Almost Home and Barefoot Season are women's fiction books... and I wonder if it's the start of the end?

But aside for the fact that these authors are switching genres... my question is why? And I can't help but think deep down, it has something to do with the author's age. Perhaps they feel a disconnection to romance and draw inspiration from what they're going through in life? Or do you think it's because the two genres are so closely related, it's easy to cross into the other? Is it just a natural step in the evolution of things? I guess it doesn't limit to contemporary romance --> women's fiction. There's also romantic suspense --> mystery, paranormal romance --> urban fantasy. However, are these switches a conscious choice? I mean, when you take a closer look, authors who write historical romance are more likely to do it throughout their whole careers... or am I making generalization?

In the case of Sandra Brown or Kay Hooper, I always thought it was more about going mainstream, which is not a bad reason. Although when I consider Ms Hooper's books, a lot of her romance books had psychics and she liked her characters mysterious and intriguing... So perhaps her switch was really simply where her writing led her. Hmmmmm.


I guess my question is: Why do you think romance authors branch out to other genres? Is it simply the evolution of their writing or is there more underlying the switch? Is age also a factor? Is women's fiction the natural evolutionary path from contemporary romance?

10 comments:

  1. It's funny you mention this and the age thing.

    I was thinking about it the other day, 'cause I write in my free time too and just yesterday I realized that I haven't written a story with a teenage protagonist in about three years. I don't know why it is, but after a while I'll just felt better writing characters in their mid twenties than teenagers. So, I'm thinking that age might be an important factor.

    Also, I think the transition might be part of the whole "little town" phase romance seems to be going through. I think that when you write about small towns, and have big cast of characters, it's easier to let the romance fall aside a little.

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  2. Hello...
    Well, I'd say the most obvious reason would be because they want to. Because they tried something whether to start having a name or because the opportunity was for that genre but their true ambitions are to write something different. I think it was Tami Hoag who said she really wanted to write thrillers and she took that step when she had some experience with romance and she realized thrillers was still what she wanted.
    So maybe many have a goal but not the contract/opportunity/ possibility/etc, to follow their wishes. But when it's possible, they go for it.
    I guess if it was me, if I wanted to write a certain genre but wasn't confident or didn't have the offer to publish those things I really wanted, I'd start with something else not only to give me confidence and experience but also to see if I truly had the passion for what I thought I wanted.
    I know this isn't so with many authors, but maybe some of those who do change genres think like this too.
    ****

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  3. Hey Nath! Good question.

    I do agree that for some romance writers it might be a matter of age -- I know that some of the writers who have been around for a very long time seem to evolve and create better mature protagonists as the years go by... instead of those young, impulsive characters that you might find in their back list titles. Some of them just seem to lose that touch.

    But, for quite a few of those authors that you listed above, I think it was a matter of going main stream, or of publishing a genre that they wanted to try -- something different like romance suspense, thrillers, or women's fiction. Barbara Delinsky did write romance, but to me she's better known for her excellent women's fiction (and I'm not talking elderly ladies in a small town), and although I like Sandra Brown's old romances, I came to really love her romance suspense. Like Sandra Brown, Nora Roberts really switched too... she has been writing mainly romance suspense with a few "other" genres mixed in there for a long time, and just last year went back to "straight romance" with the Bridal Quartet.

    I usually give favorite writers a shot if or when they change genres because I consider them good writers. However they have to deliver, if they don't then I drop them.

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  4. Alex - It's a bit like when people tell you to write about what you know. I wonder if as the authors age, do they really want to write about heroines that are in their 20s, 30s... Do they still want to be writing about finding love. If the answer would be no, then they'd start moving towards women's fiction.

    Personally though, I don't think it necessarily have to do with "little towns." I think with little towns, yes, you can play with characters a bit more and therefore have a mix of contemporary romance and women's fiction, but for example, Barbara Delinsky did the switch way before the "little town" phase. I guess what the "little towns" effect has done is blur the line btw contemporary romance and women's fiction even more.

    S. - LOL, indeed, that'd be one of the reasons :) but in the case of contemporary romance --> women's fiction, and if age is really a factor, I wonder if it's really a conscious choice.

    I think you're right though, a lot of authors realize later on what they want to write and gradually make the switch. I think that happens more with romantic suspense/mystery thriller. You see a lot of authors writing romance and then, tackling on another genre to see if it's successful. I guess once you're published, you can take greater risk.

    Hilcia - Thanks. It's a question I have every time I see an author writing contemporary romance and then, her next book is women's fiction ^_^;;

    See, I don't know if it's writing experience or age that make them write more mature protagonists. I guess perhaps it's both. And I agree, some authors seem to lose their touch. I guess it's hard to connect with your characters when there's such an age gap. Suddenly, you don't see yourself anymore, but your daughter or granddaughter?

    Nod nod, I do agree a lot of them were to go more mainstream. It's sad though :( Because I feel we lost a lot of good authors. I'm glad NR switched back to contemporary romance with the Bridal Quartet, because I have to say her PNR didn't do it for me.

    I follow my favorite authors wherever they go... but whether I continue following, that's another matter.

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  5. Ha - the Canadian version is actually rather pretty, isn't it?

    I've not read any of the authors you've mentioned (or if I have, they haven't stayed in my mind!) but I'm guessing that is probably the direction they want to go? I'm with Hils - I give their new genre a shot, sometimes it works, other times it doesn't...

    Though the PNR stuff? That struck me as jumping on the bandwagon for quite a few authors - and rarely worked.

    Li

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  6. Ahh nice choice on getting the Canadian version of Armstrong's book. Everything except for that jacket cover is really lovely. I don't know why they went with that ugly person silhouette when everything else is gorgeous.

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  7. I think there are a number of different reasons. Could be they get bored writing in the same genre. Like readers, writers could have interests in more than one genre but need to stick with a specific genre to establish themselves before trying their skills in something new.

    Like others have mentioned, it could be evolution of their writing related to the author getting older and their viewpoint reflecting that of someone older.

    And it just might be money and the market. Authors can make more if they publish in hardcover but not all genres do well in hardcover. Then there's the YA market. It's huge now so maybe authors who wanted to write YA years ago couldn't sell it but now they can't write it fast enough.

    Interesting topic Nath. Makes me think of how I used to read only historical romances but now read a variety of genres. Tastes change.

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  8. Sorry for the late replies, girls!!

    Li - Well except for the cover jacket, yes it is! Who'd have thought? LOL.

    Oh I agree on the PNR, a lot of authors jumped in it because that's what it was selling. Same thing for the YA bandwagon. I guess if you don't give a try, you won't know.

    Samantha - I agree with you, love the cover and the edge. I wonder what was the concept behind the cover jacket. I guess can't know for sure though till we see the effect it gives. Perhaps it'll work out?

    Leslie - True, it could be they get bored and want to try something different. But I wonder if it's restricted to romance authors and I wonder if the opposite is true as well. Mainstream author going into a more specific genre...

    Well I'd say a decade ago, what was available was mostly historical romance :P The fun thing is whatever the direction an author takes, there'll be readers.

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  9. So glad the surprise party was a success! Those are always fun. :)

    I like the Canadian cover .. good choice.

    I think author's crossing over to other genres is one of three reasons, or some combination of all three:
    1. They simply get an idea for a story in that genre, so they go with it.
    2. They want in on a certain market where there's currently a lot of sales. And why not? This is their livelihood! Go where you can make money. Just do it well.
    3. They simply want to try something new.

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  10. Christine - Yeah, it was fun :)

    Thanks :) I'm glad I found out about the edge and cover, because I usually pre-order HC and would have really been bummed out ^_^;

    And you're most probably right :)

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