Thursday, February 23, 2012

Scared of crossing genre lines?

by guest blogger Kelly McClymer

Dick and janeI started reading with Dick and Jane. Kids today have many more colorful options, but Dick and Jane gave a big advantage to this budding book lover: they made everything else I ever read seem interesting and fun. I felt there was no boundary too far to run from Dick and Jane. And Spot. Mars? Sounds like a grand time. A little house on the prairie? I’m there. A windswept Prince Edward Island in the early 1900s? Sign me up. Narnia, or a time warp? Oh yeah.

Which brings me to my pet peeve (thanks, Lorraine, for letting me vent today): people who are afraid to cross genre lines. They make seemingly reasonable statements like, “I only read cozies.” Or romance. Or thrillers. Or Oprah picks. Or more inflammatory statements like, “Romance is brain fluff.” or “Science fiction is about ideas and I like books about people.” In some quarters, them’s fighting words.

Sometimes I wonder if I may have been afraid to cross genre lines at some point if my parents had not bemusedly encouraged my vacuum-cleaner-like book choices (start at the beginning of one library shelf, and work my way across, down to the next shelf, and the next, and the …). That kind of reading history inoculated me from believing any common genre prejudice.

Science fiction is not about people? Of course it is. I knew that because I ran across John Brunner’s classic The Sheep Look Up on my uncle’s living room end table when I was 12. That book is all about people, and science (and how corporate greed is toxic to the people – and it was written in the 70s).
Brain candyRomance is brain fluff? Snort. I’ve been married for over 3 decades, and there’s many a romance (and a few science fiction, mystery, thrillers and fantasies) that’s helped me through the minefield of the romantic relationship many a time – and entertained me along the way.

Fiction gives me insight into human beings (even when they’re disguised as robots or vampires). I need that insight, because – as I discovered while raising a son on the autism spectrum – I’m really not good at picking up people clues in the real world.

I’m proud to say I’ve never met a genre line I was afraid to cross. Some I like more than others, but every genre out there offers me some new perspective on people, life, living, and myself.

Which brings me to my secondary pet peeve: publishers’ fear of genre mixing in anthologies. When you find an anthology, it usually has similar genre stories (maybe a publisher will be daring and mix in some romantic mystery, history, suspense…maybe). But usually they stick stories into same genre boxes.

At Backlist Ebooks, we thought outside the genre box for our anthology of backlist tales. Our stories cross all the lines: mystery, suspense, science fiction, fantasy, contemporary, horror, you name it. After all, our authors have backlists in multiple genres. Many of our individual authors cross genre lines within their own backlist. I write historical romance, science fiction, YA (fantasy and contemporary humor), and whatever else strikes my fancy.
Tales from the backlistThis anthology, Tales From the Backlist, is a work of hope by the members of Backlist Ebooks. We want to support our fledgling backlist author platform. And we hope that readers may dare to cross a genre line or two and find a new genre playground or two that satisfies the reading itch. Take a chance and cross the genre line with our short stories. I dare ya.
Kelly McClymer has one foot in traditional publishing, with her YA series The Salem Witch Tryouts, and one foot in the indie publishing world, with her backlist Once Upon a Wedding historical romance series. To scramble things up further, her Tales from the Backlist story "Diapers, DIshes, and Demons" is a literary fantasy about a woman for whom post-partum depression is a very real -- and annoying -- demon. You can find Kelly at her website, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

 (P.S. Lorraine has a story in Tales from the Backlist, too.  It's my Jeff Resnick story, COLD CASE.)