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Genre SUPER-Mismatch | INDIE Books

Genre SUPER-Mismatch | INDIE Books

Timing Is Everythi – Squirrel!

I love a grand dame kicking people doing really evil things to the proverbial curb with a jab-cross of smarts and common sense, and finishing them off with a round-house of confident badasserie.

(It’s a word.)

(OK, it’s letters in the shape of a word that bear remarkable resemblance to actual words.)

So I love Patricia Cornwell and her Kay Scarpetta crime novel series.

As in – chest tight, when is the next book in the series coming out? Arg why can’t she write faster? Doesn’t she understand my needs! – type of selfish, self-centered reader at near-junkie levels of addiction to a series.

Yep, that was me.

And as a writer myself, I know exactly why the next book in a series does not instantly appear in a reader’s hands the moment they lament and cry out in need.

(They haven’t activated their time traveling teleporter.)


So years ago when I picked up Patricia Cornwell’s newest book, deep in the series, and it started out with…ummm…supernatural weirdness?

I put it down.

The series I would bite you soundly over if you interrupted my scheduled read time and Kay space.

Yep. I put it down.

And then tried again.

And that was also a nope.

I was used to straight, real-world, actually-based-on-a real-person awesome, just down the narrow center track of only a crime-mystery story.

And suddenly – supernatural.

Eleven novels into a series with characters in a world I knew and cared about, and suddenly the moon was made of cheese-puffs.

I couldn’t read it.

"And after much internal deliberation, I realized the simplicity of the answer."

No Peas And Carrots Here

Now look, I love supernatural stories. They are some of my very favorite stories to read.

Even most of what I write is contemporary fantasy or paranormal. I pretty much like to add a little bit of the supernatural to almost everything I write. (Even my science fiction. Yeah, I go there. Thank you, Anne McCaffrey – read more about her in this blog.)

So why didn’t I happily eat up that book with an enormous spoon of “please sir, may I have some more”?

Well, I have thought about it a lot.

And after much internal deliberation, I realized the simplicity of the answer.

It broke the rules.

Breaking Bad Rules


I did just write a whole blog about mixing genres being awesome and a wave of writing in the indie author world that is sumptuous to read and one of the great undiscovered countries filled with glorious fields of new favorite books just waiting to be plucked by great-story hungry readers. (If you missed it, review the beauty here.)

I have a handful more blogs I planned on this very subject, as well.

So how did that genre mixing book break the rules and made it hard to read?

What rules?

Very good question, dear blog reader! (Please keep asking them. They are always welcome here.)

The rules were set by the books themselves.

All eleven that had come before.

They had described the world and the characters so well and beautifully detailed you know these (made-up) people, the places they live, their work. The rules of the world.

So when there is suddenly supernatural elements, something that had never happened before, it became a reading earthquake. And trying to integrate that smoothly with all I knew before, that I had become comfortable with as my reading foundation – shook me to the core.

That sounds dramatic.

And I have been known (swoons not withstanding) to be a smidge dramatic in this blog.

(Smidge. Teensy, itty-bit. Tiny really. Nearly not there at all.)

But this is not that.

This is a sudden turn from the established created reality in a way that leaves the reader (especially the impassioned dedicated reader) to blink repeatedly, throw the book at the nearest hard-flat surface, and make a consternated face.

(A consternated face looks a bit like a grumpy face and a confused face got in a car wreck on your face.)

Think about it.

What if…?

Batman pronounced his love of wearing spurs and added them to the Batsuit.

It was finally revealed that Star Trek’s Enterprise is actually a dragon that has taken the form of a spaceship.

Superman started killing people.

(Oh wait, that one already happened and it ticked off a lot of people.)

"Or maybe...what she should have done was roundhouse us all away and drink lemonade with raspberries in the sunshine for a little while longer before she even thought about the next book..."

And Then There Was One

Four score and seven minutes ago I started to explain where mixing genres could get an author in trouble and lose their readers.

Now I still adore Patricia Cornwell, and her series is still incredible. I don’t know if she wanted to try something new to refresh the series as it was eleven books in.

Or maybe she didn’t know what to do because she was eleven books in.

Or maybe she needed a break from writing for longer than she took because readers like me kept psychically banging on her writer office door demanding the next book, and what she should have done was roundhouse us all away and drink lemonade with raspberries in the sunshine for a little while longer before she even thought about the next book as she had already written eleven (terrific, I might add) books in the series – for goodness sakes!



Ms. Cornwell did not let the slump of that one book keep her down and she has gone on to write a deliciously ridiculous number of additional books in that series that are beloved in their full dramatic glory.


So What Is The Moral Of The Story?

Writers make mistakes.


OK, calm down.

Take a seat.

Head between your legs and breathe.

It’s OK.

Yes, writers make mistakes. They try something new and it doesn’t work.

Or it does!

Or it’s just meh.

And genre mixing can be one of them. If you don’t do it right.

We just went over one way to make a mistake by breaking the rules of your already established world. (On a rare occasion you can do it, but only if the writer writes it just right. Say that out loud. It’s fun.)

There is another genre mixing issue (mistake, what-have-you) that had industry-wide traditionally established steps that were taken in the past by big name authors – including one I have mentioned here in this blog before and who may have the initials N.R. shhhhh – that have gone incognito, ninja even, to side-step (with a Pow!) that other genre mixing issue.

The confusing kind.

But during this recent indie author explosion, the question became, is it really?

Well, N.R. didn’t think so.

And we will dive deeply into that conundrum next week!

When we answer the question: Is there another issue about genre mixing or is it all made-up?

(Did you see what I did there?)

(I was going to say “Or is it all fiction” but that seemed too much.)

(Did this writer make a mistake?)

(You be the judge!)

Have a wonderous week and see you in the next.

Stephanie Writt

Writer, instructor, graphic artist and all around lovely soul, with a generous sense of humor  (yes, I am totally writing this myself), takes delight in sharing her geeky knowledge and ridiculous joy in reading, writing and business. As the current Director of Operation at WMG Publishing Inc., she has the privilege and mischievous pleasure in writing this blog every week. 

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