Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Writing Wednesday: Genre Hopping

We all have certain genres we like to read. And certain genres we like to write. Sometimes those are the same and sometimes they're different. Just because I like to read first person POV New Adult books once in a while doesn't mean I'm writing them.

Which brings me to my Question of the Day:

Can an author write in different genres under the same author name? or does that confuse readers?

Some authors use two different names - like Nora Roberts and J.D. Robb. Same author, different genres.

Or Bella Andre and Lucy Kevin. Same author, one spicy and one sweet. In fact, with some of the stories, Andre gives us the same version with one "cleaned up" and one with all the "naughty bits." Something to please every romance reader.

Stephanie Meyer was a huge success with her TWILIGHT series - but her adult book HOST, which she penned under her same name, was castigated right and left. (I actually read all her books when they each first came out, yes in hard cover, and liked them, including HOST.)

J.K. Rowling made a fortune on the Harry Potter series, but again, when she tried to break into adult fiction with A CASUAL VACANCY, readers rebelled. She's since written a critically acclaimed detective series for adults, but under another name - Robert Galbraith.

But then there's Carl Hiasson - he writes quirky fiction for both teens and adults, both under his one and only name. The same guy who delights middle school readers with HOOT, a story of triumphing over bullies, also writes stories like SKINNY DIP, where a bale of Jamaican weed figures prominently into the plot.

Dave Barry writes decidedly adult humor in his columns and books, but also co-wrote the PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS series for young teens.

So is it only men that can get away with genre hopping?

The question has come up a lot lately for me because I write romance AND young adult. Is that confusing, or should a reader be able to read the blurb and know what the story is about and whether they'll enjoy it? Similar to sweet versus spicy romance - another author was recently laughing about a bad review she received because there was *gasp* sex in her romance novel. Really? I've received a few of those myself - but now I wonder if it's my own fault for muddying the waters.

I'm really interested in what other authors think about this.

I know tomorrow is the Thanksgiving holiday in the U.S., but if you've got a minute, chime in.

Happy Writing - and Happy Thanksgiving!


  1. Katie- a question for the sages! I write sweet and...not sweet! and I've thought the same thing. My sweet stuff tends to be in first POV and I just find writing sex scenes in that voice a tad intrusive. In third person, not so much. The point was driven home to me lately, too, as one of my reviewers called my newest book "Racy." She lamented she hadn't thought it would be filled with "so much sex." In reality - two scenes of actual sex. Most of it the book was tension. I've debated whether or not to use a pen name for the sweet stuff - but decided not to because I'm still developing my career and, hey, I need people to know who I am!
    Your point about men being able to switch genres is a valid one - and a pain the a** when you consider it. Men are also paid more for their writing, no matter what genre it is. The funny thing about women having to write in different genres under different pen names was driven home to me when I discovered Jayne Ann Krentz. She writes under her real name, Amanda Quick, and Jayne Castle. 3 names - 3 different romance genres. The moment I knew this I bought her backlist in each name and loved every one of the books, despite the differing genres. My point: good writing is good writing no matter the name on the book cover. And I'm sticking with that---and my own name!

    1. Good for you, peggy. So far I'm sticking with one name as well, but have recently been contemplating a change, thus the investigation into it-- and seeing the disparity between the genders just pisses me off.

  2. I'm going to suggest that it's not gender but where the author achieves fame first in in what genre. James Patterson started out as a mystery writer for adults. Adults often recommend books to teens, so going from adult to teen is not a problem. He's not going to lose readers, he's going to gain them. JK Rowling and Stephanie Meyer became huge successes in YA, and most adults are not going to then turn around and read what they think is a "kid" book, despite the number of adults who read both Harry Potter and Twilight. Nora Roberts started out in romance. We all know the bias romance authors face, so moving to something different requires a new name. I'd say it's more genre than gender, and gender differences just happen to be coincidental in this case.

    1. Valid points, Jennifer. But what about different names for different romance genres, as Peggy pointed out? John Grisham writes under one name with different types of books, all for adults.

      I agree that the adult vs. teen angle might be in play, but I also think the male vs. female aspect is all too evident.

  3. Another great post Katie. Ha--yes I had a review "good story, but too much sex." You've got some valid points. Didn't JK Rowling say she got rejected numerous times with her "woman name" and then as JK got published? I was advised to write under a pen name when I start writing historicals...not sure that makes sense either. Aren't readers smart enough to choose (Peggy's point) I think it's a little of genre and gender.

  4. Great topic. Gender bias? It could be that women readers read romance, mysteries, thrillers, horror, etc. written by both genders, whereas male readers read everything, except romance. And many male readers – including some I know – dismiss the romance genre as "women's fluff."

    As for using pseudonyms, because I'm writing sexy historical romances, I will use a different name for some picture books I've been working on, and another different name for young adult.

  5. Very interesting topic. I've wondered this as well. Since I'm new to the game, I've stuck with one author name, but I have considered writing under a different name. Not sure what the answer is.


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