The Genre Jumble
I’m beginning to feel Diana Gabaldon’s pain when trying to classify my novel, INDIGO. Is it a romance? Sure – there’s lots of romance in it. Is it science fiction? Yes – it has time travel elements in it, but it’s not too “sciency.” Is it fantasy? Hard to say – time travel could be categorized as fantasy as well. I should note - this is where Diana Gabaldon’s novels end up, though I’d personally be more likely to categorize her as historical romance. It’s a conundrum to say the least.
While participating in Ohio Author Day last weekend, I was put on the spot to introduce myself and my book to the local cable access channel – and was fairly gobsmacked to try to pigeonhole the genre of INDIGO. It’s NOT just one genre. It’s in fact several. I stumbled around my usual sound bite, “It’s a romantic suspense novel, with a little bit of time travel thrown in for good measure…” or something similarly nonsensical. What does one say when their book crosses multiple genres?
I’m in a similar quandary at the moment as INDIGO is officially in audiobook production (yay!); as I filled out the book’s vital information, the question of genre again came up. WHAT IS IT? I even put the question up to my Facebook followers, and received the following answers:
- Science Fiction
- Science Fiction Romance
- Definitely Romance
You see where I’m going with this…the genre ultimately is reader specific. There are main genres, and now there are also a gazillion subgenres. AND, those subgenres can crossover as well. What’s an author to do when their novel doesn’t fit neatly into any single box?
Weep in the corner? It’s an option…
Another option is to look at the novel as objectively as possible; to think like a reader about the overarching theme of the book. In the case of INDIGO, I think I have to sit in the romance box. The overall theme is love, and how far one would go to claim and protect it. Yes, there is the time travel element, but I don’t think it overtakes romance as the main theme, I think it only enhances it.
What else can an author do to resist being genre pigeonholed?