Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Is a Romance Author Allowed to Write a Different Genre?

by Renee Field

I recently met with a fan who was in town and asked for some signed copies of my paranormal books, Rapture & Bliss and because I’m a firm believer in building my fan base I of course jumped all over that.

I had a lovely chat with this woman and when she asked me what I was working on I immediately launched into my long list of projects which includes final edits for a young adult paranormal romance, and a new contemporary women’s fiction. I could immediately see she truly wasn’t interested in the YA stuff but her eyes jumped when I talked about the overall plot for my women’s fiction which might take me years to write. But this got me thinking about a few things.

While it’s great we, as authors, can target ourselves and say we’re a romance, historical, contemporary, paranormal, erotica, mystery, young adult writer I often feel putting a label on things limits us. Some writers and I confess to being one of them, use pen names for their alternative writings. Now, I confess I did this because a lot of my writing is hot, sexy and erotic and I didn’t want my fans to become confused with my hard-hitting nitty gritty realistic teen novels, but I’m no longer sure I needed to do this.

Why? Readers are smart. They’re going to invest in the time to look at your book cover, read your blurb and decide for themselves if this is something they want or desire to read. Does it really matter that my erotic/sexy books could be also on the same web page of my young adult reads?

Why don’t contemporary literary authors face this same issue? I’m thinking of authors like Margaret Atwood, Margaret Lawrence, and Jeanette Winterson to name a few. I’m a huge fan of all three authors but Margaret Atwood didn’t get labelled a futuristic romance author when she wrote The Handmaid’s Tale…why? Because at the foundation we’re all writers. That’s the core of who we are as authors.


I know local Canadian author Julianne MacLean started writing her women’s fiction under a pen name but then quickly dropped it. Why you might wonder? A good story will sell all on its own, and her loyal fans were not disappointed that she made the jump from historical romance author to a hard-hitting contemporary women’s fiction series. Author Sherrilyn Kenyon has also made the jump into paranormal young adult books and she lists both on her website.


So this begs the question. Is it okay for a romance author to simply say they’re a writer? Do you think it’s fair to readers to showcase a variety of genres on your website if you’re an author?

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  1. This is a fantastic post, Renee. I've often wondered these very things. In the end, I've chosen to keep my real name and use it for all my books. Can't wait to read the comments this post generates.

  2. This question makes the rounds of our writers' meetings at least once a year. Many authors use different names for different genres. Jayne Anne Krantz for one. These days, with the easy access to information, readers all know she has three names. However, the names do serve as an easy flag for which genre a book in in. So pen name or not, the readers will sort out crossgenre. As to whether hot erotica should be on the same web site as YA, as a mom of 3 daughters I'd rather not they find hot on their YA sites. Soon enough for them to explore more adult topics. One group writing venture I now of, went with all levels of heat under one series banner. They flagged them with hot peppers - the more peppers, the more heat. They labelled them sweet, hot or erotic - but unfortunately readers didn't pay attention to the labels. Books were bought based on one in the series and subsequent comments of shock and disappointment started to appear in the reviews. As with most topics, there is no easy answer. Thanks for opening the discussion.