There was a time in my writing career when I would break out in a sweat if someone asked me this question. ‘Em, I, well… Popular Fiction…’ I would splutter. Well it was fiction and of course I hoped it would be popular. Or I’d whisper, ‘Commercial Fiction’… as in I hoped to sell it someday.
But I didn’t quite get it. I was writing a story. There was romance there and crime; family relationships gone askew and international politics and…
Okay so it sounds like it was all over the place. But it was taking shape, chapter by chapter. There were some who advised me to get it together or leave it alone. But I knew that my novels were about redemption. I was sure of the theme and that it was a story that was believable. So I tapped away and got on with the word count.
Crime plays a big part in my novels so recently I joined a crime writers group which has made me re write my crime scenes to a much better standard. But my novel is not particularly a crime novel.
There are also love stories; warts and all; but they don’t make for romance. One of my first editors pointed out that that it was a typically Irish novel. People were having babies but there was no sex. So I had to go back and write a few love scenes.
Politics makes an appearance but not in the form of a political thriller.
There are now three novels and pssst… ‘I’m still not sure about the genre…’
But I came across something recently that referred to novels such as mine as ‘Realistic Fiction.’
Apparently, Realistic Fiction, although untrue, could actually happen. Some events, the people, and the places may even be real. It can be possible that in the future, imagined events could physically happen.
So is this me? Is this my genre? Well if I want it to be then it is. If it makes me more relaxed to have a neatly fitting label for my work then phew! There we are. Realistic Fiction!
I still want it to be popular though and I certainly want it to be commercial!
I think we struggle too much with genre. At the end of the day the book sellers want to know which shelf they should put your novel on. So stick a genre on it for their sake but get on and write the novel you set out to write.
So perhaps there’s a murder scene in your historical romance or a crime takes place in your political thriller?
Louise Phillips, author of Red Ribbons is giving a One Day Crime Writers’ Workshop here at Carousel.
For more details see:
In the meantime I’ll just keep writing my stories! You do the same…