Saturday, September 11, 2010

From Amish Romance to Steampunk: Nowadays There’s a Genre for Everyone

I got an email the other day announcing the launch of a group blog called  Austen Authors (Our very own Marilyn Brandt is a member.) It occurred to me that Jane Austen-inspired books are now officially a genre. These days there so many genres springing up it's hard to keep track. Used to be there were only a handful of tales to be told: Broad-Chested Boy meets Bosomy Girl, Who Killed the Butler?, Invasion of the Little Green Men, A Bump in the Night, Cowboys vs. Indians and Unicorns, Fairies and Other Fantastical Creatures.

After a while, people got weary of the basic genres and subgenres were born: Broad-chested Boy meets Bosomy Girl while being chased by a band of assassins (romantic suspense) or Werewolf meets Bosomy Girl (paranormal romance) or Bosomy Girl meets Bosomy Girl with a penchant for hot wax (lesbian erotica). Over the years, dozens of subgenres sprung up: steampunk, Regency, cyberpunk, Arthurian fantasy, serial killer, slipstream, space westerns, etc.

Sadly as new genres are created, others lost popularity (chick lit, horror, westerns).

Lately I’ve noticed genres getting even more specific. Amish Romances (or bonnet-rippers as they’re sometimes called) are hot. (But not too hot.)  Foodie fiction and knitting novels are also gaining ground.

Some authors create sensations by marrying improbable genres as in the case of Pride and Prejudice and the Zombies. Can Vampire Knitting novels or Amish Dystopian be far behind?

I got on this genre tangent because this weekend I’m going to the Sullivan’s Island S.C., an area called the low country. Did you know that low country is also a genre with Pat Conroy as the king and Dorothea Benton Frank as the queen? Other recent low country novels are “Driftwood Summer by Patti Callahan Henry, “Last Light Over Carolina” by Mary Alice Monroe, “Saving Cicadas” by Nicole Seitz and “Folly’s Beach” by Karen White.

Have you heard of any new genres lately? Is there a genre you prefer over others? If you’re a writer, what influenced your genre of choice?

In honor of my trip, I’m giving away a SIGNED copy of Benton Frank’s latest called “Lowcountry Summer.” To be eligible to win, leave a comment. I’ll be gone all week with little access to internet so I won’t announce the winner until next Saturday.



  1. I'm still a fan of chick lit. By Foodie Fiction, I'm guessing you're referring to them including recipies. I've seen so much of that lately.

  2. I want to check out a steampunk book. I read a lot of Sci-fi books when I was in my it's all romance.

  3. I find it a little sad that some genres have become less popular (ie. chick lit, one of my favourites) so that other genres can come to be. The world is filled with tons of very different readers, why can't all of the genres just get along?

  4. Jonita, I've noticed some books coming out lately that sound a lot like chick lit, so I think you'll see more of it. After all, what will all the teens read once they stop reading YA? (Although I've starting reading some YA like Hunger Games and Before I Fall.)

    I keep wondering when vampires will die.

  5. Amish Dystopian! You're a genius. You should immediately sell the idea on a couple of sample chapters.

  6. I'd read an Amish dystopian novel in a heartbeat. And in theory I want to read a steampunk novel but am not quite sure why I haven't gotten around to it yet. The genre I've liked the best of the new ones that have been popping up over the last decade: literary sci-fi

    TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE, SUPER SAD LOVE STORY, NEVER LET ME GO. I love stuff like this. Keep them coming!

  7. I totally want to read a vampire knitting novel. (I was into vampires back when Anne Rice was doing them, so I don't feel like I've jumped on a bandwagon when I tell you that I love all things vampire.)

    I love a lot of different genres. Growing up, I read pretty much anything I could get my hands on, and I still read across genres.

  8. Love this post. And just like Brenda Janowitz, I so would want to read a vampire knitting novel. Can you imagine that knitting class? LOL. The genres I love are mystery, chicklit & women's fiction. Add a recipe and I'm a very happy camper.

    Debra S.

  9. I'm with Brenda and Debra and want to get my hands on a good vampire knitting novel ;). I admire knitting but can't do it well myself. The vamps need to be careful that the long knitting needles couldn't be turned against them (like wooden stakes--what danger awaits!), though, but this extra element of potential conflict is already intriguing me...LOL!

    And Karin, thanks so much for the shout out about Austen Authors. It's been fun getting to share the Mr. Darcy love with the world :-).

  10. You had me at "bonnet ripper." OMG, I'm laughing! At the nickname, not the genre. I think I'll have to try one of these. They're outside my normal sphere of reading, but getting lots of press.

  11. Too funny! Okay, seriously, I've recently been reading some YA and really enjoying it.

  12. I'm currently working on a book aimed at women, which mixes one part chick-lit, one part choose your own adventure, and one part self-help; so to me, the ability to put a niche book in front of a specific, but dedicated, audience faster is fantastic. That, and the fact that CYA format also happens to be wonderfully suited to both e-readers AND to the laptops we lug on the train to and from work everyday!

    I also think that niche groups tend to be master Googlers, more likely to stumble upon any "unusual" sites or products. Where niche books drown in retail bookstores, they'll likely flourish online, if only because they'll have more opportunities to reach out to meme-makers within their own area of interest, to request they read your book, where as hundreds of thousands of "mainstream" writers are competing with one another for space that's already reserved for the next Harry Potter or Twilight. Funnily enough, both of those books might be considered niche by some, despite the they way they blew up in popularity; partly thanks to online media and word of mouth (AKA: How 14 y/o's talk to each other).

    Of course, with niche anything, you always run the risk of having it ruined when it catches on to everyone else and even you get sick of it.

    Just think about how much those vampires and sorcerers regret talking to writers. Now they can't even get have their own lore to themselves anymore. It's like those stupid rip off Andy Warhol paintings with the same image of a person printed in four different colours, which were cool until everyone had one and it killed it. Maybe niche actually IS better!

    Thanks for yes another insightful discussion on an original notion.

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