I think the main reason I dabble across genres is because I read quite a bit of nonfiction, particularly historical and religious in nature. And, I am a geek at heart, so science is pretty high on my list of reading too. Considering most of what I write falls under horror, mixing it with just about any other genre is pretty easy.
Now I’d like to stray a little off topic or just twist it a bit. A couple weeks ago I decided to enter The Courier in this year’s Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Colorado Gold Writer’s Contest--that was a tongue twister. It’ll be my first year at the conference, and I’m pretty excited about attending. But when I got my latest newsletter with entry information, I noticed the genre categories are mainstream, mystery, romance, action/thriller, and speculative fiction (spec-fic). Uh oh, I thought. My novel is lumped into speculative fiction, that infamous catchall category for all kinds of stuff.
Speculative fiction is an umbrella fiction genre generally encompassing the more specific genres of science fiction, fantasy, horror, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history. --Wikipedia
On a side note, I’m going to plead ignorance for a moment and say, I thought spec-fic was more of a “what if” category, related to history. What if Germany won WWII? What if The Cold War ended in thermal nuclear war. What if a major volcanic eruption occurs in Iceland? Oops that one's actually happening. Then again, I suppose “what if” is such a loose question, it could be asked in regards any one of the genres listed.
Now back to the contest. One of the members of my critique group mentioned that tagging the genre for The Courier will be tricky. That made me pause. He mentioned that the judges don’t exactly read and judge well outside their chosen genres. For example, I’ve been classifying The Courier as fantasy, but a judge for that genre would likely throw my entry to the side, favoring traditional Tolkien style stories. Hmmm…
According to the contest, the categories listed for spec-fic are science fiction, fantasy and horror. So, I’ll have to submit to horror and hope my synopsis gets the story to the right judge.
This leads me to ask you all a question about your reading habits. How often do you stray from reading your favorite genres? Do you find yourself reading critically or giving up on a story that’s outside your preference?