Back when I first got into the publishing business, I read advice far and wide that told aspiring authors like myself to essentially write in the genre that you read the most.
So, what genre did I read in the most?
Particularly paranormal romances by greats such as Sherrilyn Kenyon, J.R. Ward, and Kresley Cole.
I love my alpha vampires and immortals, and their mythology and world. I love when the hero or heroine gets dragged into this dark, shadowy world full of supernatural creatures and learns to stand on his/her own two feet. I love when the couple gets their happily ever after, or heck, I’ll even take a happy for now.
So, what do I write?
Well, besides gay erotica, I mainly write contemporary gay stories that are NOT romance. Not even in the slightest.
I like to think that my stories have romantic elements, but is romance the main focus? Nope. Do my characters get HEAs or HFNs? Sometimes. Usually not as a couple, though.
However, my love for romance fiction is how I ended up following romance review blogs. Most of my friends on Facebook and authors I follow on Twitter write romance. I belong to groups that heavily focus on romance.
I studied the romance market and what’s hot in that genre for so long, I tricked myself into thinking that I could classify my own work as romance. Yeah, right. My stories don’t exactly follow the rules of Romance-landia. When I realized this, I thought that maybe I could just label my work ‘dark romance’ but that still didn’t fit. Even as a dark romance, the entire story’s plot has to focus on the romance between two or more characters. The couple’s HEA (or HFN) has to happen. Otherwise romance fans everywhere will get the pitchforks and Hunt. You. Down.
Unless you’re someone like J.R. Ward, then you don’t have to worry about that because you’re awesome and you can do whatever the hell you want.
But I digress. I had a list of indie and small publishers I was so interested in sending my work to, but after learning that my story ideas don’t fit what they sell, I asked myself just one very important question:
What the hell am I writing?
That’s when I decided to research the different fiction genres, all the while wondering where my stories could fit in. They’re dark, of course. A bit angsty with a heavy focus on gay men that’s usually not a coming out or ‘gay issues’ type. There’s some action. Some drama. Some twisty type plots. Some smut. Some big romance no-no’s like cheating, domestic abuse, violence, etc. And there are sociopaths. Lots of sociopaths. What can I say, I like to write about crazy people.
During my research, I came across the thriller genre, and a light flicked on in my head!
I love psychological thrillers. That’s exactly what I’m trying to write, but with more sex. And gay men. I was happy to learn that there were different types of thrillers, too, such as drama thrillers, romantic thrillers… things right up my alley.
Once I found out this revelation, I realized I didn’t read much in the thriller genre, so I needed to change that, stat. I do love a good, thrilling movie, however. (Hello Mr. Brooks and One-Hour Photo).
The first book I picked up?
Edited by James Patterson, himself, I thought this was the crème de la crème of thriller writers and a good start to getting a feel for the genre. Imagine my surprise to see Christopher Rice listed among them. I’d started reading Christopher Rice when I was in high school and he was one of the authors I emulated my earlier, longhand stories after. (More on that in another blog post for another time). I absolutely adored Rice’s work. When I read A Density of Souls, I thought ‘I’d love to write like that’, and I absolutely had to get my hands on his others: Blind Fall, Light Before Day, and Snow Garden—all of which I still highly recommend. But anyway, before I even had the notion of what a genre was, I knew I wanted to write like he did.
So now that I have an idea of where my stories might be labelled, I’ll be doing my due diligence and checking out the competition, as they say. I want to know all I need to know about writing thrillers and publishing them. I want to know how they differ from publishing romance, because I learned that I am most certainly not one.
That isn’t to say I won’t ever write a romance. That just isn’t where I’m at creatively right now. But who knows, maybe I’ll be like Heather Graham and do it all!
Well, that’s it for what I learned so far about where my writings might find a home. Don’t forget to check back next week! I’ll be doing a blog post on authors I emulated in my fetus writing journey. Surprisingly, they aren’t *most* of the romance authors I’d read so much of.
Until next time,