The Importance of Genres

Sometimes people say things that make no sense. Like comparing the work of two authors who have no business being compared. I think it’s a little ridiculous to say that genres limit creativity by placing labels on one’s work.

No one is saying that certain genres need very specific stories or characters. I mean, just look at young adult. Sure we have an expectation of what to expect when starting a new young adult book, but that doesn’t mean every book is the same. Which goes for every genre.

The fact is (to me) that we need genres. Let me make a comparison here. Imagine if we didn’t have genres in music. Then we wouldn’t have radio stations genre-specific. And maybe that’d be interesting to some, but not to me. Imagine a Madonna song followed by Kendrick Lamar and then Blake Shelton. It would be odd.

Now let’s get back to books. Imagine going into a bookstore and there is not a single label or sign anywhere in the store to tell you which section you’re in. Why? No genres. So the entire store is alphabetized by author. The store is one big blob of books. Business books. Young adult. Mystery. History. Art. All shelved together with no “label”.

Think about this. How many times have you read a book, series, or author and immediately wondered what to read next? I haven’t done it much recently, but I have done it. So you play around on Amazon or Google or maybe even on the author’s website trying to find similar works. That’s what genres help with. I once randomly grabbed a book at Barnes and Noble by Robert B. Parker. I’d never read any detective fiction before. In subsequent years I found Spenser, Elvis Cole, Alex McKnight, Charlie Hood, Alex Cross, and Harry Bosch. These characters are not the same and they’re not directly influential of one another, but they do fall under the same umbrella of detective fiction.

There’s nothing limiting about genres. If you want to write something that blends several different genres together in the pages of a single book, then go ahead. But newsflash, it’s already been done plenty before you and those books are all categorized somewhere.

Do you think genres are important? Or are they just stupid labels to you?

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On Sherlock Holmes

I’ve been reading crime fiction since at least high school. My memory tells me I started with Jesse Stone, a former LAPD homicide detective who becomes the chief of police in Paradise, Massachusetts after interviewing drunk. I’ve moved on to several more detectives in the years since opening my first Jesse Stone novel.

But there’s a literary giant missing from my shelves and piles of books. Sherlock Holmes. I mean, Sherlock is a pioneer of crime fiction. What am I doing not at least reading the novels? I don’t know. But I do know that his stories are still in fairly high demand because I’m asked for them each week. I could be wrong, but they might even be on a school reading list down here.

This is one of those times I just acknowledge that there are way more books available than I’ll ever be able to read. I imagine at some point I’ll get my hands on a Sherlock Holmes story. Or at least I’ll watch the TV show or movies. One day.

Are there any iconic authors or characters in your favorite genre you haven’t read?

Which Authors Would you Invite to Thanksgiving Dinner?

thanksgiving-turkey-dinner

Photo Credit: Delish

I know Thanksgiving has already passed, but I wanted to post my poem on Thursday and then I thought you guys might like to know about Amazon’s promotion yesterday. So you’re getting a post related to Thanksgiving a bit late. Sue me.

Okay. It’s the beginning of November and you’re trying to figure out who is and who isn’t coming to Thanksgiving dinner. Except this time we’re not talking about family members you see each year. Nope. They’re on vacation in Cozumel. Now you’re inviting some of your favorite authors instead. How exciting!

Let me tell you who I would invite. Michael Connelly, James Patterson, Robert Crais, Robert B. Parker, and Suzanne Collins. The first four all for the same reason. Because they all write truly great detective series that I’ll never be able to compete with. So I’d just pick their brains about writing the genre for a few hours. I probably wouldn’t eat. These guys are heavyweights going strong with no sign of slowing down. Except for Parker, who died a couple years ago.

And Suzanne Collins. Because I’m obsessed with the character she created. I mean, I want to get a freaking Mockingjay pin tattoo. Oooh. Maybe I could get it before she arrives and show her how crazy I am. I’d just tell her everything I love about her stories and Katniss. Then I’d beg to get all three books signed by her AND Katniss herself. Then I’d just die. Right there.

So those are the authors I’d invite to Thanksgiving dinner! What about you? And don’t you dare try saying EL James or Stephenie Meyer. I’ll block you. Not kidding.