I had some happy news this week – I won a writing award (The Mary Grant Bruce Gippsland Writer in the FAW Literary Awards) for a children’s story and it was the second year in a row that I have won this particular award. I don’t write many children’s stories, even though I have four young children myself. In fact, the story that I won this award with didn’t start out life as a story for children, it just happened to be about young people. A few comments from readers later and I redrafted it specifically for the younger age group.
I have won awards or had stories published in other genres too – horror, contemporary, humour, even some spec fic. So, do I need to pick a genre and stick with it? Or do I go with the flow and write whatever is in my head and worry about genres they fit into later?
There are some notable authors who have had success crossing genres: Agatha Christie is famous for her crime novels but wrote romances under a pen name, Mary Westmacott; Paul Theroux writes travel books and novels; Roald Dahl, famous for his children’s stories also wrote adult fiction.
But how difficult is it for emerging writers to get away with crossing from one genre to another, or even writing cross-genre stories? If you’re seriously trying to make a name for yourself in a crowded industry would it be better to apply your craft to your more favoured style of fiction?
I’d love to hear your thoughts, but in the meantime, I’ll just bash out whatever comes into my head and see which box it fits.