I Did Not Pick My Genre…My Genre Picked Me
Recently, my debut novel, Scout’s Honor, won Bronze in the genre of “Southern Fiction” at the 2016 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards. At the Awards Ceremony, winners from every genre imaginable crossed the stage to receive their medals and subsequent photo opportunity. My book was entered in the contest under “General Fiction” and “Southern Fiction.” General Fiction obviously casts a larger net, while Southern Fiction is more specific.
Whenever someone asks me what kind of fiction I write, I have to think about it for a minute. The truth is, my writing fits into several modern day genres: Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Southern Fiction, Women’s Fiction, and Book Club Fiction. One book reviewer gave Scout’s Honor a 3-Star review (which I appreciated!) because it was “Christian” and she didn’t like the genre “Christian Fiction.” While I understand not reading Christian Fiction, I will say in response to that criticism…good luck finding a southern story without any Christian characters in it! Later, a Christian Book Blogger would not even post a review of Scout’s Honor on her blog because she thought it presented Christianity in a negative light and her blog readers wouldn’t appreciate that. I tried to present Christianity in a real light – one where there are human beings at various levels of faith hiding in dark corners, looking through broken mirrors and shattered people of faith doing ugly things to one another, wrestling with their beliefs, and then trying to redeem themselves. That isn’t really Christian as it is human.
On one of the live YouTube author roundtables hosted by French Press Bookworks awhile back, Australian author David O’Sullivan addressed the topic of the “young adult” genre during a discussion piece concerning the “dumbing down” of The DaVinci Code for teen readers. He was adamant that there is no such thing as “young adult” genre. And I think he is mostly right. Genre is really just a commercial invention which funnels works of art and writing into neat little folders and packages in order to better market them to specific audience clusters. Genre certainly has its place in the world; authors and publishers need to eat too. However, at their core, books are just stories reflecting authentic life in some way, whether it’s a story about a teenager in the midst of a high school love triangle full of vampires or an everyday kind of man trying to make it off of Mars alive.
When I think of the reader who reads my book, I think much wider than the middle class white mom who browses the genres where one would find Scout’s Honor. I also think of the eight-five-year-old father of a co-worker who read and loved Scout’s Honor because it reminded him of when he was younger in rural North Carolina. I also think of the retired physicist battling Stage 4 cancer who came to my launch event, read my book and said that it reawakened a love of novels in him. I think of the seventeen-year-old girl who read Scout’s Honor, and through the story, recognized that her friend was being taken advantage of by a much older, married man and then did something to put a stop to it. For contests and marketing, my writing fits into several average reader genres; however, I like to think of my work as stories for everyone.
Simply put, I did not pick my genre…my genre picked me.
Dori is the author of the award winning novel, Scout's Honor. Her second novel, Good Buddy, will be released next year. For more about her work, visit her website at www.DoriAnnDupre.com or follow her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.