What Goes Into Choosing Your Genre?
In your spare time you may read a number of different types of books for pleasure, but as an author, you need to focus on a particular genre to write in. For some, that’s a fairly simple decision, but for others it may not be so easy. So how do you decide? What factors go into choosing your genre, or your sub genre? There are many ways to do it, but in today’s guest post authors Sloan Quinn and Katherine Stark offer up a few ideas based on the process they used.
Romance as a genre is huge. There are so many different sub-genres contained within it: paranormal romance, contemporary erotica, thrillers and romantic suspense, romantic comedies… the list could go on for ages. We both are newer romance writers: Sloan Quinn writes the Dirty series, enemies-to-lovers romances centered around the criminal underground in Philadelphia (where she went to college); and Katherine Stark writes the Center Ice series, which follows the affairs of the players of the Washington Eagles NHL team (wink wink). We work together at Eventide Press, a small author-run packager publishing books whose goal is to publish newer/less represented authors, as well as stories that blend the different romance genres in interesting ways.
So how did we each decide which genres we wanted to focus on and why?
Sloan: I adore romantic suspense novels. It brings together two of my favorite things: action-packed, heart-stopping adventure, and even more heart-stopping sexy scenes. So when I first started writing romance, I knew this was the genre I’d focus on. My goal is to write the kind of page-turner you can’t put down, both because you’re dying to know if the main characters will wind up together, but also because you need to know how they get themselves out of the dangerous hole they’ve dug themselves into.
Katherine: I’m a lifelong hockey fan, so when I started writing contemporary romance, I knew I wanted a sporty element to it. I pull in a few suspense elements too: my first book features a Russian player who’s unwillingly involved in the Bratva, and my second book stars an investigative reporter heroine determined to find out the truth behind some of the team’s cover-ups of shady activity. It’s really fun to weave together all those disparate elements: sports, intrigue, and of course, smoking hot hookups with the wrong guys (I’m a sucker for bad idea romances with unexpectedly happy endings).
What makes a novel fit into your genre?
Sloan: To me, there are two key ingredients to a thriller/suspense romance: 1. external threats not just to the relationship but also to the lives/safety of either the main characters or the people they love, and 2. off-the-charts, searing-hot chemistry. Those two components together define the genre for me.
Katherine: For contemporary and sports-focused romances, the biggest elements IMHO are really dedicated, driven heroes/heroines (athletes know who they want and they go for it, no matter the consequences), and staying true to the real world, at least in your settings and descriptions. My favorite part of getting lost in a believable contemporary romance is how true-to-life it can feel when you’re reading.
Are there any genre “rules” you break or bend in your writing?
Sloan: I try to not write just a straight macho alpha male. Don’t get me wrong, I love an alpha as much as the next gal, but I also want my male love interests to have a soft side, a side that ideally our heroine eventually unveils. That, and I want to explore different dynamics with my side characters. M/F stories will always be my go-to, but something I really want to read more of in this genre are both M/M and F/F stories. Because those can be steaming hot too, and they’re stories we don’t get to read enough of in suspense, IMHO.
Katherine: Agreed! More diversity in stories is something all the Eventide authors strive for. I want to read PoC heroes and heroines in contemporary romance; I want to see M/M relationships (especially in the NHL, because I want to envision a world where queer players can be out and proud); I want stories to connect us, to allow us to empathize and relate to one another. I also just want to see everyone get their HEA, not just the people we’re used to seeing get them.
What are some of our favorite novels in each genre?
Sloan: Ugh, so many. Susan Stoker’s Mountain Mercenaries series is smoking hot, and I love just about everything that both J.D. Robb and Alexa Riley have ever written. Some newly-discovered favorites for me include Lani Lynn Vale, Meghan March, and Krista Wolf.
Katherine: Toni Aleo’s Ice Cats series, and everything Sarina Bowen (though especially SUPERFAN, of course).
Favorite style of plotline within your genre?
Sloan: Enemies-to-lovers tales are my absolute favorite. I’ve always felt like hate and love are flip sides of the same coin—you can’t hate someone unless they really, really piss you off. And they can’t piss you off unless they understand you, get under your skin, and know you like nobody else does. Which, coincidentally, is also the recipe for a smoking hot romance too.
Katherine: Soft boys and their angry goth boyfriends (speaking of which, Sloan and I are working on a crossover series at the moment—stay tuned for that!); will-they-or-won’t-they relationships that keep you guessing right up until the first angry/accidental make-out; coworkers are a fun one too. All that “it’s forbidden” tension really adds to the heat of those stories. It’s what I strive to bring to my books, as well!