Sunday, 18 October 2009

Eleni-fest: this week - romance and fantasy genres

Genre fiction - what is it?
According to Wikipedia "Genre fiction, also known as popular fiction, is a term for fictional works (novelsshort stories) written with the intent of fitting into a specific literary genre in order to appeal to readers and fans already familiar with that genre."

Oh so does that mean formulaic? X + Y = Z? 
"By definition, works of a given genre follow, more or less, the conventions of that genre. The American screenwriting teacher Robert McKee defines genre conventions as the "specific settings, roles, events, and values that define individual genres and their subgenres." These conventions, always fluid, are usually implicit, but sometimes are made into explicit requirements by publishers of fiction as a guide to authors seeking publication."

So no there is no formula. There are conventions and they are fluid. In fact if it every story was exactly the same, how boring would that be?

  • In a romance, you know it will be about man and woman's relationship, emotional and end up in a happy ever after (HEA).
  • In a mystery/detective, the mystery will be solved.
  • In a fantasy, the quest will come to an end and will be resolved.

But how you get there is totally up the author. In the end you have to have the goods to have a book published in any literary field (self publishing does not count). And the market is tough whatever genre you write for. So kudos to anyone who can get their book published! 

Popular fiction - pah!
You may get this attitude from people. That because popular fiction follows certain conventions that it has no literary merit. Pah to those people. Honestly, I don't care where the story falls in the popular vs literary scale, just as long as it's a good tale. 

I will not be shamed in my pursuit writing in the fantasy genre. What is wrong with wanting to make money from doing something you love? Mary Jo Putney at the recent RWAus conference, said 'why would I want to write unpopular fiction?

With romance getting over 50% of the pie, could naysayers be jealous? Very likely.

Enough with negativity let's celebrate two 
of my favourite genres: 
Romance and Fantasy.......

Romantic fiction

Romance fiction is not about sex. It's about the relationship between a man and woman, who struggle to recognise and maintain their love. They have to overcome obstacles to have a satisfying happily ever after, thus giving readers a satisfying feel-good read. In fact the one genre that has done well and increased sales in these tough economic times has been romance. People don't want to read about reality all the time. It's a form of escapism and for the time it takes to read the book, there is an immersion into another world (actually that can be said about any fiction) and things work out.  Here's a link to the Romance Factor site about Romance sub-genres.

Look at my guests this month just to see the variation of romantic fiction:
Historical romance or sagas - Anna Campbell, Anne Gracie, Elizabeth Rolls, Anna Jacobs
Paranormal - see section Romance vs Fantasy
Modern Heat - Anne Oliver
Contemporary romance - Loretta Brabant 

See different romances for all....

Fantasy fiction
Now I have always been fascinated with fairy tales, myths, legends, magical have always loved fantasy. Fantasy is under the umbrella of Speculative Fiction, which includes science fiction, horror, paranormal, etc.
When you think of Fantasy, what is the first book you think about?  Did you say J.R.R. Tolkien's 'Lord of the Rings'? This has been selling steadily since it's release in 1954 and it is a true epic fantasy which I love. The movies directed by Peter Jackson have captured it's essence and beauty. The feeling of a whole world different to ours. So rich and complicated in its tapestry just like any world is. No wonder it has stood the test of time, and while the writing may be considered old fashioned now and the narrative long, it is a true classic.
Fiction Factor has links to subgenres of fantasy, science fiction and horror....

Some of my favourite authors in fantasy are:
Jennifer Roberson
David & Leigh Eddings - all hail The Belgariad!
Sara Douglass
Traci Harding
JRR Tolkein (of course - wow world-building galore)
and with children's, JK Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Roald Dahl

In horror - of course Mr Stephen King
I'm still discovering futuristic and science fiction but I tend to watch more of it- Star Treks, Stargates, Firefly, Battlestar Galactica, Farscape, Babylon 5, Gene Rodenberry's get my drift :)

Romance vs Fantasy
Why do they have to be pitted against each other? They don't. After all you don't compare an action movie to a comedy? 

They are different but there is definitely overlap (as you can see with the subgenre links). Most notably has been the rise of paranormal romance. A huge market has erupted and it was there long before Stephenie Meyer penned The Twilight Saga. Don't get me wrong, I have enjoyed this series thus far (still to read book 4) and think it's great that teenage girls are reading again. But she didn't event the market. I remember reading on the net a comment the new Vampire Diaries TV series is a rip off of Meyer's books. The Vampire Diaries was published in the early 1990s by LJ Smith, so no, they are not. :P

Authors who are big names in the paranormal romance world are JR Ward (The Black Dagger Brotherhood), Sherrilyn Kenyon (Dark Hunters), Christine Feehan (Dark Series), Maggie Shayne (Wings of the Night), NZ author Nalini Singh (Psy/Changeling Series)....and many more. 

My guests this month who write paranormal romance include 
Keri Arthur (Nikki and Michael series; Damask Circle series)

We can also add to the list those more leaning towards Dark Urban Fantasy (romance isn't central & not guaranteed HEA)
Keri Arthur (Riley Jensen Guardian series)
Erica Hayes (Shadowfae Chronicles)
Tracey O'hara (Dark Brethren novels)
....and these are just my guests this month.

And then there's the Fantasy blend with erotica and romance - Denise Rossetti (Four Sided Pentacle series).

Big Old World

See a big wonderful world where there is romance, fantasy, and a combination that can all live in harmony. I like that. No let me rephrase.... I LOVE that....

I've only scraped the surface. Romance is huge. Fantasy is huge. Cross-genres are huge. And now that I'm reading more, I'm looking forward to catching up on books that CFS interrupted when I had to slow down. I've repeatedly mentioned on this blog how huge my TBR piles are. So many books to read, so little time....

My Worlds

So what do I write? Well I say fantasy with romantic elements, but I do have a couple of paranormal romances in the works too.... So Fantasy and Paranormal does that sound?

My main focus has been on the epic fantasy, but I've enjoyed writing short stories in the past and have had a few published - some fantasy, some with paranormal elements, some contemporary. Each has developed me as a writer. And I keep growing and learning.

I have high fantasy settings where magic is normal, dragons are near extinct, and others where people from our world stumble into unknown parallel worlds. I also have contemporary settings where a magic lives with our own lives and others where the supernatural world is hidden.

I did Rowena Cory Daniells' Worldbuilding workshop at the conference and had a blast. Can't wait to pour over her notes again once Eleni-fest is over.

Inspiration you can tell I'm abit of an art fan (love the visual) and fantasy art reflects the majesty of this genre. Like the below -wow!

So much to write, so little time....

Now to celebrate my love of fantasy, I have a fantasy pack to give away to one lucky commenter (magnetic mermaid photo frame, fairy bookmark, dragon pen, and fairy catching system, and a fridge magnet). 
Just tell me what your favourite genre is and why? Easy enough. 

The comments will be open until the end 24th October.

Comments are now closed. Congratulations Linda Henderson!

Good luck!

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