Why We Choose the Genres We Do

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday’s post comes from guest author, Malla Duncan. I found her books after noticing her wonderful wildlife posts on Facebook. She shared some very sweet elephants, so imagine my surprise when I read her suspenseful thrillers!  Here she is to tell us more about why she chooses to write the genre she does!

First, thank you Kathy for inviting me to post on your blog. I am most honored. Not being a great blogger myself (I mostly use my blog to post reviews on Indie writers who have taken my eye) I was wondering what I could write that would be appropriate for such an excellent blog space. And I fell to wondering why we choose the genres that we do for our writing.

My preferred genre used to be called ‘Woman-in-Jeopardy’ in the eighties and was  extremely popular well into the nineties. You might have pegged them as romantic thrillers – but romance was less emphasized. Instead you got gritty tension and pace that left the woman to fend for herself in dangerous circumstances. Today’s queens of the genre would be Nicci French, Tami Hoag, Kathy Reichs, Lisa Gardner, amongst others. They write about individual women fighting their way through personal emotional issues and the tricky stalkings of a clever, deranged killer.

woman in perilBut a more intriguing question is why I want to write (and read) that particular type of story. I have always felt drawn to stories that took me to darker places, that gave the female lead more to think about than just netting the perfect man. And I like women characters who are ordinary people – realistic, flawed, capable of making mistakes. However, I have friends who won’t read my books because they don’t like reading about murder.

So, I wonder what fundamentals influence our individual preferences for thriller, paranormal, romance, spy story, historical saga, sci-fi, etc? Is it a personality thing? Or upbringing? The influence of others? Is it affected by education? Or simply the quirks of fashion? Probably all of that.

Looking back, I remember that as a child I loved witches and ghosts. I liked creepy  stuff. And nobody taught me this – I just liked it. As child of the fifties in South Africa, I had no knowledge of television. All we had were books and comics. Does anyone remember the Little Lulu comics? There was always a story of the witch in the woods. Those were my favorites! The darker and spookier the woods, the better! So I suppose it’s not surprising that all these years later I find myself writing thrillers.

People tend to stick to comfort zones when looking for a book. Research has shown that readers first search for authors they know – and failing that will explore more widely but still only in their preferred genre. Books that fall outside clear delineation have a hard time of it. They say ‘write what you like’ and yes, that’s good advice because it may produce really good writing – but your book may remain marooned that no man’s land between genres where browsers rarely go.

vintage-retro-042The best selling genre in the world is still romance – read in general by female readers. Are women simply more romantic than men? What is it that they’re looking for? Are they unhappy with their lives, their marriages? Do they secretly see the men in their lives as inadequate?

What about the horror lover? What is it that they seek? A frisson of fear? A way to tread the unknown, yet leap back to safety by closing the book? Why does fear attract us so much? And what am I looking for when I happily follow horrible deeds of a serial killer on the loose? What’s up with me?

I like action, pace, mystery, intrigue. And the darker side of things. The story has to move quickly or build intrigue cleverly for me to remain interested. Thus far, I’ve found that the thriller genre does that for me. The moment a book becomes pedestrian, I glaze over and start paging ahead. Unfortunately, I’ve come across thrillers which descend into the ‘padding’ mode – and I always feel that the writer has ‘cheated’ me when that happens. But there are many people who like that part of the book and who prefer a more leisurely pace, who have the patient eye for detail.

So let’s look at my personality profile: impatient, anxious, somewhat neurotic, sharp and tending to cynicism. Also high sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol. Well…does that reflect on my choice of reading?

How about doing a quick personality check of your own and see if the kind of book you prefer, matches you exactly? Or if you have an eclectic choice of reading – even that may be part of who you are.

We read to travel the brilliant worlds we would never see without the writer’s sweeping imagination. We read to ‘see into’ other places, other minds, other possibilities. All of us read in search of comfort, challenge, knowledge or excitement. But the way we choose to do this is part of us, as individual as DNA and unique as a thumbprint.

You can test out my profile (and yours!) if you like, by picking up a copy of one of my thrillers:

oneNightONE NIGHT – Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008QNNPS2

What frightens you? Really? Casey Blaydon is about to find out. Still smarting from the breakup with her boyfriend, she finds herself alone and looking after a friend’s dog for one night. But Barton cottage is lonely and nothing has prepared Casey for the events that are about to converge on her doorstep – events which unleash a terrifying mystery that follows her home like a shadow. One Night is a full-length, high tension, contemporary murder mystery, suspense thriller.

 

 

DS new new coverDARK SANCTUARY – Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00781SBGE

Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/54380

Also Barnes&Noble / Kobo / Apple.

One day can change your life. On that memorable Monday morning, investigating a murder was not on Suzahne’s list of things to do. Nor was kidnapping, a brutal attack, and meeting a man who seemed bent on changing her life. It was a day when mystery began – a mystery that cannot be solved until Suzahne finds the courage to reveal her own dark secrets. Tight, gripping suspense thriller.

 

Catchee cover 3CATCHEE MONKEY – Amazon http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00845BBR4

Smashwords https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/55929

Also on Barnes&Noble / Kobo / Apple

What if the perfect man you were about to marry wanted you dead? When Elise Collette discovers a dark side to the urbane Jeff Braithwaite – a history of women either dead, missing, or injured – she wants to clear him of suspicion and sets out to uncover the truth. But truth and lies are difficult to unravel when you are playing a deadly pawn game with a ruthless mind. Psychological thriller set in England and Sri Lanka.

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