Monday, August 28, 2006

Ask the Authors: Monday

Ask the Authors

We thought we’d try something new this week at Charis—and if it goes well, we might do this on a regular basis. This week we will pose five questions to our contributors, and you’ll find their varied answers to a single question each day.

If you have questions you’d like us to ask during a future “Ask the Authors” week, send it to As always, thanks for joining us!

Today’s Question: Do you always write in the same genre? Why or why not?

I have written both contemporary and historical thrillers, as well as one long stand alone historical (Glimpses of Paradise). I build suspense into every book, so I'm a suspense writer. Right now I'm concentrating on contemporary thrillers. -- James Scott Bell

Yes. Killing off a person by page two is a hard habit to break. ~Brandilyn Collins

I write in two genes: historical and contemporary. I prefer historical because I like the spiritual values of the 1800’s, yet I love to address today’s problems when writing a contemporary story. –Lori Copeland

I always write in the genre that I grew up reading, which is romantic suspense. Because I write with Mel, who knows medicine, he and I now incorporate medical into our work. Of course, now that I write in this genre all the time, I prefer to read other genres for pleasure. Chick lit and fantasy fiction make it possible to suspend disbelief, because I don't catch myself automatically editing these genres. In other words, they aren't work for me. --Hannah Alexander

For the last decade I’ve written historical fiction. Beginning with Death Watch last year I branched out to contemporary suspense and am currently contracted for three more contemporary suspense novels. Why? One, I enjoy both genres and wanted to try my hand at contemporary suspense. Two, a breather from research. With contemporary fiction when my characters put on their shoes I don’t have to wonder if they buckle, tie, or Velcro them. — Jack Cavanaugh —

Sort of. :) All my books share certain traits, regardless of genre: they show family relationships; they include animals in some way; they feature some aspect of nature; and there's always some element of romance and of humor. But as for specific genres, I've written romantic adventure, humor, and suspense; contemporary relational; and suspense. --Karen Ball

My first novel was a simple murder mystery, but I seem to be drifting toward a type of fiction people have some trouble labeling. For lack of any more accurate descriptor my publisher still calls it “suspense,” and I understand their reasons, but I don’t think of it that way. All good fiction must include some form of suspense, so I find that label pretty useless except for marketing purposes. To me, my stories are just stories. There are consistencies in them, which include: a sense of magical realism, settings (usually natural) used as a “character” or a force within the plot, a vigorous use of metaphor and allegory, physical conflict, and a thematic concern with man’s relationship to God. —Athol Dickson

For the most part I write contemporary fiction aimed at women. Although I do have some faithful male readers and I try to keep them in mind too. Why? Because I can. Oh, wait, that's Flannery O'Connor's answer. The Lisa Samson answer is, because it's what comes naturally! --Lisa Samson

Historical fiction is where I fit. It's always been my first love among the novels I read, so I suppose it was just a natural place to go when I began writing. (It had nothing to do with the huge sales and big bucks, despite what you may have been led to believe. Choke.) -BJ Hoff

All my novels are contemporary women’s fiction, and usually include some social issue and an element of romance. Those are the type of books I most like to read, so I guess that’s why I write the same. My one historical novella left me with a deep appreciation for those who do the research to write historical fiction. ––Deborah Raney

I write out of a personal aesthetic and mostly for women. (although I seem to get email on occasion from male readers) Not really genre writing. But for critics and sales people who need to drop me in a slot, I’m usually branded as a southern novelist. That gives me a lot of latitude, and when you’re working on expanding your readership, you need numerous character situations to offer a broad appeal to mainstream readers. My protagonist can be female or male, a criminal, or a saint, living in the present world or the past, yet all having some sort of ties to the southern region of the U.S. My stories are all character-driven, and usually promise a horribly matched romantic conflict. Oh, and I use humor in all of my books. I get quite a lot of reader mail expressing appreciation for the elements of humor.Your readers expect a certain type of book once you’ve hooked them with the first one. There are a few writers that take forays outside of their name-brand fiction and are successful at it. I think that kind of change has a lot to do with the demographics of your readers. --Patty Hickman

Definitely not! I write the books God whispers into my heart, and they've landed me in several genres. When my children became readers, I was compelled to write children’s books (lots of mothers have this urge, I’ve discovered!). In the late ‘90s, my hunger for God’s Word continued to grow and out of that came the Bad Girls of the Bible series, combining fiction and nonfiction, storytelling and Bible study. Writing contemporary romantic comedies gave me a chance to incorporate humor and my love for small towns. But it's Scottish historical fiction based on biblical characters that really makes my heart sing, so that's where I've settled down for this season of my life. Unless God leads elsewhere, of course! :>) --- Liz Curtis Higgs

Well, yes and no. I always write what can be described as women's fiction, but sometimes I write contemporary and sometimes I write historical. And sometimes the stories fall into the romance genre and sometimes they don't. But they are always about relationships and have deep emotions at their core. -- Robin Lee Hatcher

I write historical fiction, women’s fiction, and speculative fiction . . . and some of my books (e.g., The Immortal) are a blend of all three. Why? These genres just seem to fit the stories the Lord gives me. –Angela Hunt


At 8:25 AM, Blogger C.J. Darlington said...

I love this idea! Now to think of some questions ... :)

At 8:51 AM, Blogger Cara Putman said...

Thanks for the fun insights.

At 9:41 AM, Blogger Kristy Dykes said...

Thank for bringing this insightful segment to CC. I loved reading the answers to one of The Important Questions in Publishing.

At 1:49 PM, Blogger Cindy Swanson said...

What a great idea and a terrific question. I was happy to see some of my favorite authors among the responses. I'm sure I have some questions as well.

At 3:18 PM, Blogger Jerome said...

What reasons could there be to switch genres? Once you're an established author, as all of you are, why change? Like the old saying, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

At 8:47 PM, Blogger Southern-fried Fiction said...

I loved this! Especially Karen's answer. I've seemed to carve out a niche for myself I haven't seen yet. Now, we'll jsut have to hope a publisher likes it. At least my agent does. :o)

At 9:12 PM, Blogger Bonnie S. Calhoun said...

This is great! To hear the answer to the same question from so many authors is insightful!


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