Finding My Genre – February 2017

As a fiction writer, I’ve found through attempts at marketing, a need to better refine the genre in which I create most of my work. To do this, I’ve had to read work in several different genres and determine what’s the best fit for me. In my case the key drivers are finding a theme which has a strong emotional pull, create relevant characters who gradually come to life as I write and take them on a journey which means there needs to be a plot. The authors who resonate for me therefore also have these characteristics in their stories. I can therefore define my writing style into the genres of upmarket fiction, women’s fiction and/or psychological suspense.

I’ve been an avid reader since grade school and annually purchase numerous hard copy and eBooks but I’m disappointed to say that over the past year I’m buying less and less. The market has been taken over by thriller after thriller or crime fiction with the latest in boutique detective or policeman or policewoman. My genres seems to be pushed more and more to the back shelves. One of my favourite authors, Jodi Picoult, creates compelling psychological suspense stories, an example of which would be Mercy. It caught my attention since we recently amended the criminal code in Canada to allow for medical assistance in dying (2016-06-17). In her story, the protagonist, Allie Gordon’s husband who is the local police chief, Cameron MacDonald, has to arrest his cousin, James MacDonald for killing his beloved wife, Maggie. As the story unfolds, the reader learns that James loved his wife, in fact, he loved her even more that she loved him and he killed her because she begged him to since she was dying with metastasized cancer and was in great pain. For those of you who haven’t read the book, I don’t want to spoil the story but the intrigue for me was how differently all the key characters looked at this event and decided whether or not James was guilty of murder.

Another favourite author is Margaret Atwood who through her recent novel, Hagseed, takes us on a gripping and emotionally rich journey of revenge. Her main character, Felix, is the artistic director of Makesheiweg Theatre Festival where he’s completed the production of a new version of the Tempest and is ready to stage it. With no explanation, he’s fired by head of the board and finds out its part of a plot crafted by an underling whom he’s been mentoring. He ends up in exile in the backwoods haunted by memories of his young daughter, Miranda, who died and is focused on plotting his revenge on the group who fired him. After twelve years, his opportunity arises as he’s hired to direct theatre in a nearby prison. He pulls together a motley crew of inmate actors to use to trap his enemies. Will his revenge save Felix? I don’t want to spoil the surprise so will leave it up to you to find out how the drama ends.