I just finished my Work in Progress–again. This makes the umpteenth draft, and there will probably be a couple more before the editing and publishing teams are done with it. Meanwhile, they are asking for information, anticipating things like cover art and other publishy promotion stuff, wanting to know how to position the book in the market.
I don’t know what to tell them.
Because this isn’t the book I set out to write. Yeah, sometimes characters do that to us.
My original concept, back in the zero draft stage, was to write a crime novel. That would’ve been straightforward, as I had an idea for my detective in a contemporary setting.
Somewhere along the way to writing that book, another story emerged.
Digging more into the backstory and the crime, and how this crime impacted my detective, the first change became clear. The book turned into a historical mystery.
In the next draft, one of my side characters took over the story, which demoted my detective into a secondary character. With the new character in charge, the book became an expat mystery (I never knew that subgenre existed until I started poking around online).
The more I got to know this new, bossy character and her relationships with the people around her, the more I thought I was really writing women’s fiction. Well, okay, I guess. But it’s still a crime story, and it includes both mystery and suspense.
In the next draft, whatever number that one was, I followed the character on her arc and noticed all the romance elements. Had they been there before? (Yes, they had.) Gosh, could I possibly be writing romantic suspense? Maybe, but not by today’s expectations. Which brings me back to my first question:
What’s my genre?
Best as I can tell, it’s a historical expat women’s mystery suspense. With a touch of romance.
Oh, and did I mention there’s a touch of the woo-woo in it, too? Not exactly supernatural, but something close.
Each draft brings the author closer to understanding the story. The author is just the vehicle for capturing the story on paper and fine-tuning it. Authors write the story; publishers figure out what it is (thank goodness). As I understand it, they look at the strongest element, and that’s what they say it is. Sometimes one genre trumps another, at least for its main category. Maybe my book just boils down to the comfortable umbrella of crime fiction after all.
What’s your guess as to how a cross-genre book like this will shake out?