Genre Bending

An older post revisited.

One of the things that catches me up at the end of a project is selecting the best genre for the book. Seems like it should be a no-brainer but it isn’t really. Of the five complete novels I’ve written in The Bucks County Series, all of them have a romantic component, so I’ve listed them under the romantic suspense genre. Nevertheless, all but one are crime stories: mysteries with clues to be followed and criminals to be apprehended. The one exception —Run For It— is even more hard to define; there are elements of suspense and romance, but no crimes get committed nor are there secrets to uncover. What is that? Realistic fiction, maybe? The thing is, I feel like I might be misleading the reader by including the ‘romance’ part in describing the genre.

Do romance readers expect steamy sex scenes? Or is that now classified as erotica? While the stories I write include the development of romance/relationships between my main characters, I abstain from depicting any sort of physical relationship beyond kissing. I think a romance reader might be a little disappointed. In any case, writing romance was never my objective, it was to write a good story in which a relationship might develop. In fact, I have nearly removed the romantic components from two of the five books because I felt the stories could stand on their own without it. I just liked the books better with the relationship left in.

I’m not a good, traditional romance writer and I know it. And perhaps that’s because I’m not particularly traditionally romantic myself. Candlelight dinners? I like to see what I’m eating. Chocolate? Ok, I’ll take the chocolate but not one of those samplers – half the stuff is inedible in those things. Flowers are nice but eventually they will dry up and all the petals will fall off and make a mess. I can never remember where I keep the vases anyway. New jewelry is lost on me – I always wear the same favorite pieces every day. You see what I mean… I feel like a hypocrite writing those sorts of things into my books. My characters feel as silly as I do in traditionally romantic situations.

So how does a romance go in a book by Meg Sorick? Most of my female leads are self-rescuers – they don’t actually need their men to bail them out of their crises. That is not to say my male leads are not capable of rescuing; I like strong male characters, just not Neanderthals. No offense Neanderthals (I hear that’s actually a thing … Neanderthal DNA showing up in all the ancestry testing everyone is having done to find out your real lineage, not the one your grandma lied about. But I digress…) Anyway, except for the non-mystery in my collection, the women find themselves as the target of some sort of criminal activity: burglary, stalking, attempted murder, and finally vandalism/arson. The men are there to help follow the clues, discuss possibilities and ultimately assist in solving the mystery. This is how I like the relationship to develop — the couple works together to overcome an obstacle or withstand a series of terrible events. They will genuinely like and respect each other, they will definitely be attracted to one another and they will learn to trust each other with their very lives. Not a bad formula, I would say. But then I arrive back at the original issue: how to classify the stories I write. I have some thinking to do. And I may give romance a rest altogether after I finish my next stand alone book —a historical novel set partly during World War One. I have plans for a sweet romance in that story, but after that? I think I should part ways with love…

26 thoughts on “Genre Bending

  1. I might be tempted to call the Bucks County series cozy mysteries, but I don’t think that’s quite right.
    They have more substance than most of those. Is there such a thing as a “contemporary cozy?” It might be time to invent a new category!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. First of all, I really must take issue this “I’m not a good, traditional romance writer and I know it”. Just what the heck is a traditional, romance writer? If you weren’t good at your craft you wouldn’t have 4 books (soon to 5) in print with a sixth already in the works. You have a formula that seems to work. It may not be perfect, and it may not thrill you to bits. But you have an ability some people would kill for. People who read romances because they want to read about people, and escape a bit. Your books make great reads. I don’t expect steam to rise from the pages of your books nor do I want it to. I want to read about people. And you do that very, very well.

    End of sermon and Tom retires his soapbox for a while.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Tom! You’re always a shot in the arm! I just hesitate to call myself a romance writer because of the low ‘heat’ factor. I think people pick out romance books expecting a certain amount of ‘action’ to put it gently. Lol! I am not comfortable writing that kind of thing, so it’ll never make it into one of my stories. I guess its just a matter of selecting the right classification for the books not trying to squeeze them under that already crowded umbrella. Thanks again!


  3. I consider myself ridiculously romantic but I don’t like the traditional stuff… it makes me roll my eyes… like those horrible jewelry store commercials. Ugh. I don’t want flowers that will die… and I’m with you on seeing what I’m eating… but I’ll take chocolate, the good kind only. LOL. But I still consider myself romantic. I don’t know what the point of this comment is… 🙂 Anyway… maybe what I write is cheesy like jewelry store commercials… I hope not, but if it is, don’t tell me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A hahahaha! You are too funny! You do not write cheesy jewelry store commercials! I actually consider myself to be very romantic, too. Just not the usual way. Hmm, but now that I think about it, maybe the jewelry store commercials don’t reflect most women’s view of romanticism either. They’re just trying to sell to men after all!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I have also had some troubles ‘fitting’ into the romance genre. I know some romance readers look for stories without cliff hangers and a happily ever after. No offence to other writers but I like stories where the endings are harder to guess. Also, real life is not very romantic at times!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, Jane. Not fitting into a mold makes a better story. I suppose there is the ‘escape’ factor though – readers wanting the unrealistic romance and the happily ever after! I guess they just won’t be getting it from us! 😃

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Meg. You inspired me to try one of your books. Three Empty Fames. So far I like it very much. I like your scenes … deciding what to do with houses and possessions, having Friday night with the girls, meeting the brother! I’ll let you know what I think (it’s on my Goodreads list, so I’ll give a review at the end). Love mysteries.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I am enjoying it so far. I like the two-parted story themed around which bad guy is after them. And the conflict over who interacts with the FBI – strong women versus lawyers!!!!!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I read a lot of romance from my library’s collection mostly and it is broken down into many subcategories there, including romantic comedy, military, mystery, clean and wholesome and everything in between to erotica. I think your writing might fit under fiction or stand alone women’s fiction, particularly if there’s relationships between sister’s and or best friends with some romance thrown in.

    Liked by 1 person

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