CROSSING GENRES AND SECOND BOOK SYNDROME

Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week is Part 1 (out of 2) of my interview with paranormal historical fiction writer, Jennifer C Wilson. She creates a world where the heroes are ghosts and Richard III gets a MUCH better write up than he ever had from Shakespeare!

Jennifer also shares her three top tips for writers, what her trigger for writing was, and names her own favourite historical fiction writers. More next Friday when, amongst other topics, she shares the joys and woes of crossing genres and how being able to go to Richard III’s funeral influenced her writing. Just how many historical fiction writers get to go to the funeral of their leading star is debatable but there can’t be that many!

Many thanks, Jennifer, for your time and for sharing some great insights. Looking forward to sharing Part 2 next week but in the meantime here’s the link to Part 1.

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Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

There will be more Christmassy flash fiction tales from me on Cafelit over the next couple of weeks. (I hope these will eventually make it into my second book). Do head over and check out their Advent Calendar. There are wonderful stories on here. Don’t miss them!

I think flash especially comes into its own at this time of year when people are under pressure, time-wise, to get things done. It is the ultimate in the quick read after all!

Facebook – Posts from earlier this week

What do I find most interesting and useful in author interviews?

Questions that encourage the writer to expand on what they do and why rather than simply allow them to give a Yes/No answer. By giving fuller answers, you have much more of an insight as to what makes that particular author tick. I’ve found reading author interviews to be a good source of encouragement. They also make me think about what I write and why.

Am sharing a photo which has gone up on Paula Readman’s wonderful For Writers Only Who Want to Write without Fear of Rejection. Many thanks, Paula, and also to my better half for getting the Christmas tree up today without which this photo would not have been possible (as they say)…

My book on our Christmas Tree as part of Paula Readman's wonderful For Writers Only Who Want to Write without Fear of Rejection Facebook page. Image by Allison Symes

My book on our Christmas Tree as part of Paula Readman’s wonderful For Writers Only Who Want to Write without Fear of Rejection Facebook page. Image by Allison Symes

Facebook – from earlier this week – From Light to Dark and Back Again

My better half and I celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary earlier this week. (We can’t believe where the time has gone either). Looking back at wedding photos etc raises smiles and causes some sadness as we recall those we’ve lost. So much has changed in that 30 years – from computers to cars to new forms of storytelling being invented (flash fiction of course!).

It led me to think about what kind of time scale do your characters work on? Can they see the long-term bigger picture or are they of the kind who resolutely sticks to the past and treats all new things with suspicion? Some great stories could come from those questions. Happy writing!

It was good fun reading three stories out from the book on Saturday (at the Bridge House/Cafelit/Chapeltown Books/Red Telephone celebration event). As well as good experience for me, audience reaction to each story let me know the emotional impact of each story was precisely what I meant it to be! It is a bit difficult to gauge this accurately when you’re on your own! (I use reading work out loud, when alone, to help me get my dialogue right and this is also very useful).

Love the booklet Inspiring Ideas that has come with this month’s Writing Magazine. Shall be finding this useful! It has picture prompts, tips from famous authors and sets exercises too. Will be staying by my laptop for some considerable time I think. What is nice these days I nearly always turn to the Members’ News and letter pages first in the magazine and see if I spot anyone I know from writing events in there. Glad to say I often do!

I read three stories at Saturday’s Bridge House event. I chose Serving Up a Treat (poetic justice), Making the Grade (humorous magical story) and Pressing the Flesh (horror. This one is also in the Best of Cafelit 6 as it started life on Cafelit). I think of this as a kind of “pick and mix” of my stories (and those old enough to remember Woolworths will know where that term comes from!).

Image: Thanks to Dawn Kentish Knox for taking the photo of my reading and to Paula Readman for sending me the image of Dawn, Paula and I together showing off where our stories are! Three very happy authors!

Fairytales with Bite – Second Book Syndrome

It’s funny how things often don’t work out quite the way you think they will.  My initial plan this year had been to have the follow-up to From Light to Dark and Back Again with my publisher, Chapeltown Books, by, say, the end of October.  Hmm…  I am glad to report I am now editing my second book and, if I can, I hope to have it off to Chapeltown by the year end/very early into the New Year.

I can confirm there’s a nice mixture of fairytales with bite in the second volume and, as ever, some of my characters even I wouldn’t want to meet in any kind of alley, yet alone a dark one.  However, they are huge fun to write for!!

Why the hold up?  Well, I’m glad to say it has been for the best of reasons.  I’ve been involved in Book Fairs, signings, extravaganzas and library events ever since From Light to Dark and Back Again came out and these have eaten into my time more than I thought.  I know I haven’t quite got the balance between writing new material and marketing the current book right but also know I will get there eventually.  It is a great comfort to know other writers have this same struggle to get this balance right!

I thought I’d leave this post with an extract from the second book, which has also recently appeared on Cafelit.

Can I also recommend checking out Cafelit’s Advent Calendar of stories?  There is a lovely mix of styles and lengths of story here.  Am glad to say some more of my Christmassy ones will appear in the next couple of weeks.

Oh and if you want to know what to give the writer in your life?  If they have a book out, reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are always welcome!

Allison Symes’s books on Goodreads

This World and Others – Crossing Genres

My Chandler’s Ford Today post this week is Part 1 (out of 2) of my interview with paranormal historical fiction writer, Jennifer C Wilson. She creates a world where the heroes are ghosts and Richard III gets a MUCH better write up than he ever had from Shakespeare!  In her Kindred Spirits series (two so far:  Tower of London and Royal Mile), she combines historical fiction with ghost stories.

Now I’m sure you’ll have come across the maxim you are not supposed to cross genres but some of my favourite books do exactly that.  Jennifer’s series does so brilliantly.  The most famous example of cross genre work is J.K. Rowling with her Harry Potter series – boarding school stories meet magical stories.

When done well, crossing genres can create a complete new sub-section of fiction and bring new life to the two genres crossed.  Christopher Booker’s The Seven Basic Plots feels there are only so many plots and so stories are going to come into at least one of the categories he lists in this book.  (A long read but a very interesting one and well worth checking out).

In my own case I cross flash fiction with fantasy, sometimes with crime, sometimes with horror and have a wonderful time doing so!  And, of course, there are those books which are hard to categorise but you just know you love them when you read them.

So mix away but choose your ingredients carefully!  I think it essential to have a thorough love and knowledge of the two genres you’re crossing (so you could work well in either if you ever had to pick one because a publisher or agent wants you to do so.  I also think there will be a stronger element of one genre than the other in the overall mix which is where your natural preferences will take you and this could well be a good guide if you have to pick a category for your work to go in).  It will also show through in your writing that you know both genres well and, as a result, your story will be so much more convincing to the reader.).

Goodreads Author Programme – Blog – Crossing Genres

There is a theme emerging tonight!

This topic has come up as my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week is Part 1 of a two-part interview with Jennifer C Wilson, author of the Kindred Spirits series. She crosses historical fiction with ghost stories.

I cross flash fiction with fantasy, sometimes crime, sometimes horror, sometimes character studies. It occurred to me that, despite all the advice I’ve come across in my time to NOT cross genres, some of my favourites stories and books have done exactly that!

When well done, crossing genres breathes new life into both of the genres the new story uses. So mix away! I do think you need to love and know well both genres you’re writing for but as Jennifer says in her interview, the most important thing is getting the story down and worrying about what genre it fits into much, much later on.

Is it me or is creating new sub-divisions of fiction a healthy thing? I see it as creative, inventive and good for storytelling as a whole.

 

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