Sunday, 31 May 2015

Writing - Changing genre

As I began to consider my next book there arose a few options which were not all within the same genre. That has generated a question in my mind as to how I achieve such a change.

Image result for a change is as good as a rest

There are all kinds of feelings expressed about change, from 'if it ain't broke don't fix it' to 'a change is as good as a rest', but with writing there are other areas to consider.

In fact I have written a novel in a different genre to the Steele thrillers produced so far. Cessation is a futuristic novel, even if it is only ten years into the future, with a political element but which I planted firmly in the Science Fiction category. It is a dystopian type story offering a view of our world if corporate big business are allowed to control our country as they are doing in the present day.

The experience of writing in a different genre raises questions of style as well as voice but in some ways this book was a cheat. There wasn't too much of a difference in style necessary and the voice was virtually the same as in the Steele novels. Having said all that it hasn't been as successful, if that's the right word, as the Steele novels. It also feels in my mind rather like an addendum to the other books featuring Steele. However, I feel that when I wrote it, it was my fifth story and the best so far, in my opinion. So the sales results are disappointing.

There were questions in my mind which I considered when writing Cessation which may have some value in relating back. Initially, and probably the most obvious, I considered using a pseudonym. This aspect even got as far as me choosing something I felt suitable but there was something that stopped me applying it to the cover. The final 'straw' I suppose was the fact that I wanted the story to be clearly mine, which was in part down to the political aspect which was personal to me.

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Then there is the affect on your readers. Having written four Steele stories there had become established a small and loyal audience, but I didn't want to alienate their interest by jumping ship and writing in a different style. At the same time I was being driven to write Cessation. If I was being published in the conventional way it may be that I would have had to use a false name.

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After having considered changing genre and a possible change of name, then there was the whole process of marketing. In fact this being the weakest side of my game, (c'mon I'm a writer and couldn't sell fridges in the desert) has been totally neglected. I do tend to refer to Cessation separately and give it its own space when writing about my portfolio but otherwise it is just one of my books.

So, taking all of the above into consideration, here I am again - on the verge of writing another Steele novel but with a second project of a more historical nature on the burner. Other famous authors have changed genre, currently the most famous would have to be J K Rowling, who has switched genre to detective novels from Harry Potter. She is writing them under the name of Robert Galbraith. 

Other examples would be of Robert Silverberg renowned for SF but also wrote crime under a pen name; Ian Fleming of Bond fame wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang; Roald Dahl famed children's author also wrote Lamb to the Slaughter a crime novel; and, Stephen King famous for horror stories also wrote The Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile. I could go on. 

Being indecisive what I have done is actually started writing another Steele novel and at the same time set up some Word documents that will become the historical novel. One thing that I've never done is write two books at the same time. That could well be too much for one imagination! All this has come out of a situation where a month ago I'd little idea of what I was going to produce.

If you write then I'm sure you are aware of the compulsive nature of the art but I can foresee the onset of schizophrenia if I try to be two authors at once!

God Bless