Each writer is supposed to have a genre. (Genre – adapted from the French – is “A category of artistic composition, as in music or literature, characterized by similarities in form, style, or subject matter.”) I’m afraid I don’t have a genre, as yet. But then, I have to confess, this is typical of me. For example, at university I had difficulty deciding on a major (principal field of study). I started out wanting to do architecture; then, I changed to mathematics, and after taking a course in set theory (which I didn’t understand at all), I ended up as a physics major. Or, more recently, consider my track record as a management consultant. I’ve worked in the health, financial services, retail, manufacturing, technology, engineering, and business services sectors. And in terms of my assignments, they have included business process improvement, cost reduction, strategy, sales and marketing, service improvement, team building, culture change, and coaching/mentoring. Not much focus there. “Jack of all trades and master of none,” you might say.
Does it matter?
It didn’t really matter for me as a management consultant, although my colleagues considered me a little bit strange. I generally took the assignments that clients wanted to give me, and made a decent living. Besides, I rather enjoyed the changes that lack of specialisation brought with it.
But, for a writer, the situation is somewhat different. The reputation of a writer is very clearly linked to his or her genre: romance, science fiction, mystery, etc. People will continue to buy a particular author’s books, because they like them and they know what to expect with the next one. J K Rowling and the Harry Potter series are good examples.
So, what about my books? Well, the first one, Fishing in Foreign Seas, is in two genres: romance and business. The second, Sin & Contrition, is a series of morality tales. The third, which is about to be published, Efraim’s Eye, is a romantic thriller. The fourth, which I’ve just finished, is another thriller about the drugs trade in Afghanistan and Iran. I’m just getting started on a new novel, which is written in the first person, and is an interesting (I hope) philosophical biography, but not an autobiography. So is there a theme that runs through these five? Well, yes, there is temptation: not just sexual temptation, but human temptation; there is sex and there is religious/spiritual controversy. I suspect that those themes would not constitute any recognised genre.
(Efraim’s Eye was published 24 September 2012.)
(For more information about my novels, see www.williampeace.net.)
I rather enjoyed writing the two thrillers, but the trouble with most thrillers – from my point of view – is that the genre isn’t really suitable for promoting serious thoughts about what it is to be human. Guns and debates about spirituality, values and morality don’t naturally fit well together. But, I think most educated readers enjoy both excitement and some intellectual challenge in what they read.
So, I’ve got to keep working on defining my genre!