How to choose which genre best describes your book
by Deborah Heal
Publishers, agents, editors, promoters—virtually everyone in the publishing industry—always wants to know what genre label to paste onto my Time and Again series. I’d tell them it’s a contemporary young adult sci-fi romantic historical Christian mystery, but that’s never one of the categories listed.
Time and Again and Unclaimed Legacy don’t easily fit into a single, clear-cut genre. I used to feel guilty about that. But I’ve decided to stop worrying so much about pleasing the publishing industry. I should have known I’d have to when an agent told me back in 2001 that if I took all the Christian stuff out she was sure she could sell the book. I have to admit that after years of being unable to get a publisher I thought about it for a half second before saying, “Satan, get thee behind me.”
I understand that there are certain writing conventions I need to follow. But mostly I now focus on just writing a good story. And that seems to be what readers care most about anyway. I’m hoping my books will find an audience among those who aren’t stuck on formulaic fads. (Those looking for sparkling guys who fly are out of luck.)
My books don’t seem to fit into a single category in terms of audience age either. Even though I aim for young adults, the books appeal to adults as well. That may be because I don’t talk down to teens. I wouldn’t dare. They’re a smart, savvy bunch.
A part of not talking down was to make the characters resonate with real live people living in their real live worlds. Abby and John don’t spend a lot of time praying or quoting Bible verses during the week we spend with them in Unclaimed Legacy. Personally, I find fictional characters like that annoying. I’m always thinking, hey, get on with the story. Perhaps you’re thinking I’m not a very good Christian. You’re right, I’m not. I’m a fallen, imperfect person. And that’s the way I made Abby and her friends. After all, that’s what I can best identify with.
My characters face what I think are realistic challenges. Abby and John struggle to fulfill the biblical command to love their neighbors, even when the Old Dears’ frailties and foibles drive them a little crazy. They struggle to maintain sexual purity in a world where that’s becoming rare (and their attraction for each other is driving them crazy too). Merri and the Old Dears struggle to understand what family really means in view of the skeletons in their closets. Speaking of dysfunctional, Franny’s friend lives in a violent home where her worst enemy is the man who is supposed to love, protect, and cherish her. Poor Reuben faces…well you’ll just have to read to find out what he faces.
And everyone struggles to avow that God is good, that he loves them, even when bad things happen. Heavy stuff, huh?
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Come back on Monday, October 8, 2012 for a book giveaway with Deborah Heal!