Sunday, July 20, 2014

Favourite Genres

A couple of years ago, I decided to be a little more open minded with my reading and stop avoiding certain genres. The biggest step I've taken is towards reading more fiction that wasn't a Fantasy or Young Adult novel.

For me, that was pretty important.

See, Young Adult is my favourite genre to read in. Up until John Green, this meant Young Adult Fantasy, but I've since opened up my reading list. In the end, it's led to me placing Michael Grant, David Levithan and Cassandra Clare all on the same bookshelf.

Why is that important?

Well, Grant is - more typically, anyway - for male readers. At least, by sheer observation. (The real reason it's noticeable - the female readers where I work read lots of other books, as well!) The Gone books are Science Fiction-Horrors, gruesome and violent and scary at times.

Clare is generally considered to be writing for a female audience. There's obvious romance. The male characters are described in terms of beauty, not by their masculinity. The lead protagonists are always female. And yet, I've read the entire Mortal Instruments series. And I loved it. It was heartbreaking, and exciting, and it's easy to look beyond the elements of it that are designed to make a teenage girl swoon with delight.

Levithan, then, is a mixed bag. He's funny, his characters can be male or female, straight or gay, but he doesn't include something that Grant and Clare do: magic. (Okay, yes, the powers in Gone aren't necessarily magic, but think of it as an inclusive term, for now.) Levithan, with the exception of A in Everyday, writes about normal people, living normal lives, who fall in love or go through tragedy, and most likely both. Love is the Higher Law deals with the consequences of 9/11, from the fear of the parents, the responsibilities of the teenagers, and the consequences of being a homosexual person in post-tragedy America.

None of them are alike, and of the three, only Grant would have appealed to me a few years ago. In fact, before my adoration of John Green as a person, I would never have considered fiction without a Fantasy element to it. Except, I had already. I just wasn't willing to accept that there were other authors out there like Roddy Doyle or Harper Lee or Mark Haddon, authors whose books I'd read in school, and loved.

The consequence of this, for me as a writer, is that most of what I've written has had a Fantasy element to it, or has attempted to emulate the feelings I had when reading "standard" fiction. (Contemporary Fiction?) I wrote about superheroes, or girls with magical powers, or gods and fairies.

Then, this month began, and I began writing something more like Levithan and Green. And you know what, it's more fun than I would have thought two, three years ago.

The point of all of this, of course, is that readers should always be willing to try something new. Read something new. If you need a suggestion, and your friends and family are proving useless on that front, ask your local bookshop. In my workplace, we all have different interests in reading, and even with a small staff we're still able to address most customers' needs.

So give it a shot, and then see how it affects your writing. It might surprise you.

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