Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Let's discuss popular genres...

OK, what is up the world's fascination with fantasy, science fiction, and paranormal novels? I'm not going to knock the genres because I'm sure there is a strong subset of people out there who say to themselves, "Who cares about stories set in a historical time period?" Plus people have a right to read what they want, so I could never knock that freedom.

I think what bothers me about these genres is that they're the going thing right now. And seemingly everyone is cashing in on it. But really? How many novels can you have about vampires and werewolves? Or mythical beings rising from the mists of Arthim-I-Can't-Really-Pronounce-This-Land (although I would really like to do authors come up with the whackadoo names in fantasy novels)? When has something just been done to death? I'll hazard a guess and say that when Jane Austen becomes populated with zombies and may be time to put a trend to rest.

Of course, there are problems in the historical fiction realm as well. It seems to me that the recent trend has been writing novels in the Tudor and Elizabethan times. Sure, I had a fascination with Henry VIII and his six wives when I was younger, but how many times can you re-tell Anne Boleyn's story? I can't help but think about all the other lovely time periods that are going largely ignored because of this trend. What about the Victorian period (although I have seen an increase in this) or Restoration England? Now that was a fascinating time and it should sell, I mean everyone was getting it on, right?

I guess I'm a bit unlucky in my choice of time period. Some readers probably feel about the Civil War, the same way that I feel about the Tudors. But you know what? My characters would not fit in anywhere else.

I started thinking about this after agent extraordinaire and blogger, Nathan Bransford, recently posted that you have to write about what you love, not what is popular. I guess I'm lucky that historical fiction never really goes out of fashion, so I've never had to make a choice between writing what is popular versus what is my interest. I'll be the first to admit that if I had written Julienne to be a vampire or a Tudor era lady-in-waiting, I'd probably get representation right away. But I refuse.

What about you? Have you ever been tempted to cash in on a pop culture phenomenon or are you content to write what you want in the genre that suits you best?


  1. I write historical fiction, too. My WIP is a Middle Grade book. I thought it was Young Adult but now I'm pretty sure it is middle grade. Which is a relief. Because while I agree with you that historical fiction never really goes out of fashion in MG and Adult, but I'm perceiving that at the moment it is quite out of fashion in YA! Do you disagree?

  2. Well recently I couldn't find anything of interest to read in adult historical fiction, so I wandered over to the YA section. I did see quite a few historical fiction novels. Of course, the protagonists were usually wealthy, obnoxious, dumb-dumb young girls forced into difficult circumstances and they have to change to survive. Can they not write strong female protagonists? Geez.
    But to answer the does seem that vampires and other paranormal creatures are taking center stage in YA right now. But maybe that would make a historical fiction stand out all the more?