Tag Archives: genre

Having trouble knowing what genre your work falls under?

Genres
When I talk to writers at Writers’ & Artists’ conferences, a lot of them tell me that they find it difficult pitching their books because they have trouble knowing what genre their writing falls under.

The word ‘genre’ is a French word derived from the Latin word genus which implies “type or sort”. It is used as a way of categorising or identifying a certain kind of book and therefore makes it easy for readers to know what to expect. In literature there are tons of genres, and it can really help your pitch if you can describe to an agent the genre you are writing and the readers your book may appeal to.

Some writers simply say to me that their book cannot be categorised into a specific genre, and this can definitely be the case with literary fiction which can be impossible to pin down, turning certain genres on their head. I remember the only way I could describe an accessible literary novel I was selling was ‘genre-bending’.

There is a very useful feature by the children’s author Malorie Blackman on the Writers’ & Artists’ website. She looks at different genres of children’s books to help writers define their own work or even help writers decide what kind of story they should write: genre list for children’s fiction

For adult fiction, I think the List of literary genres on Wikipedia is really helpful.

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Happy Publication Day: Agent Buston interviews Carrie Duffy

Congratulations to Carrie Duffy on the official publication of her debut novel IDOLHarperCollins publish on the 18th August and have secured fantastic promotional slots, including W H Smith retail, W H Smith travel, Asda and Amazon.  

Carrie read Philosophy, Politics and Economics at Trinity College, Oxford, before training as an actress.  IDOL is her sizzling first novel set around the pop sensation Jenna Jonnson and the talented dancer Sadie Laine yearning to get her big break.  Carrie has kindly let me interview her about her route to publication.

Are you excited about your debut novel coming out? Yes, very! I’m also quite nervous too – having lived with it for so long, it’s now going to be out there for people to read and not everyone is going to like it! But I’ve had some early blogger reviews which have been really positive, and each one boosts my confidence a little more. So much has happened over the last year, and publication is the culmination of that – I can’t wait to see what happens next!

How long did it take you to write? I started the initial draft of IDOL about ten years ago! It’s been through many changes since, and during that time I would put it to one side, ignore it for a while, then pick up and re-draft all over again – I couldn’t quite let it go! So it’s very difficult to say how long, but the final version probably came together in a few months.

 Why did you decide to write in this genre?  I love this genre! I read Career Girls by Louise Bagshawe when I was sixteen, and have been hooked ever since. I like to think I have fairly broad reading tastes, but I love the glamour and escapism of bonkbusters – they’re so much fun!

Have you always written? Yes, ever since I was tiny. I can remember being about six and writing little stories on my Dad’s BBC Acorn computer! I flirted with the idea of journalism for a while, but eventually decided not to pursue it. I think I was always more interested in writing books than articles.

How did you choose your agent?  How long did it take?  I’d been trying to find an agent for years, and would go through a cycle of sending material out, getting rejections, writing something new… What I liked about Darley Anderson was that they were so open to commercial work – there was no snobbery about only taking literary material. I also liked the fact that they made a distinction between chick-lit, bonkbusters, sagas etc., rather than lumping it all in under women’s fiction.

How much self-promotion are you having to do? I’m dipping my toes into the water, and getting quite into Twitter (@cazduffy if anyone wants to follow me!) My website is almost finished, and I’ll have a blog on there which I’m strangely excited about.

I think self-promotion can make a huge difference these days, as there are so many bloggers and review sites out there, and the potential to connect with people is incredible. That said, it doesn’t always come naturally to me – there are times when I’d rather stay in my own little world and just concentrate on the writing – but I’m learning.

What are your favourite authors?  My favourite ever author is George Orwell – I’ve read pretty much everything by him and re-read regularly. I also enjoy writers such as Philippa Gregory, Kate Atkinson, Sebastian Faulks and Paullina Simons. In this genre, I love Louise Bagshawe, Tilly Bagshawe, Lesley Lokko and Tasmina Perry.

Do you ever get writer’s block?  Not really – I have days where it doesn’t flow as easily as other days, but I rarely sit staring at the screen with no clue of what to write. I always have lots of ideas.

What follows IDOL?  I’ve just finished my second novel, DIVA, which should be out next summer. It’s set in Paris, in the world of fashion, and follows the story of three women – Dionne, an aspiring model; CeCe, who’s determined to make it as a designer; and Alyson, who has little interest in the industry but ends up being sucked in! I think it has a slightly more mature and expansive feel than IDOL, but hopefully it’s just as fast-paced, glamorous and sexy!

Do you have any advice for new writers out there? It’s been said so many times, but perseverance. It’s taken me around ten years to get to this stage, so that certainly applies to me! I think if all I’d received was outright rejections then I might have given up, but because I did get some interest (positive feedback, invitations to send more of the manuscript) I knew I wasn’t writing complete rubbish. It just took a while for that perfect combination of right manuscript and right agent – but it was definitely worth the wait!

To read a copy of this sensational, escapist read click here.

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For Children’s fiction, I am looking for…

A lot of you have been asking what I am looking for in terms of Children’s and Young Adult fiction.  I am looking for something extremely striking in terms of voice and story.  I love crossover titles, books that appeal equally to adults and children, such as Markus Zusak’s THE BOOK THIEF and John Boyne’s THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PYJAMAS.  These are both incredibly moving, have big universal themes and huge international appeal, the latter selling two million copies in Spain alone.

I love emotional and accessible literary reads such as Jenny Downham’s BEFORE I DIE and Lauren Oliver’s BEFORE I FALL.  Philip Pullman is also one of my favourite children’s authors – I used to work for his literary agency, A P Watt Ltd, and it was amazing seeing the international appeal of HIS DARK MATERIALS trilogy.  His books appeal to fantasy and non-fantasy readers which I think is a great skill of the author.  I love children’s books that are extremely imaginative and, if you are going to write a fantasy story, I think it is always best to ground your reader in the normal ‘everyday’ world before you take them into the unknown ‘fantasy’ world.  Think the ‘rabbit hole’ in ALICE IN WONDERLAND and ‘platform 9 3/4’s’ in HARRY POTTER.  This will not alienate non-fantasy readers, it will draw them into your world.

Do have an idea of your target audience and the age group you are writing for: 5-8 yr olds, 7-9, 8-12, 12+, YA or crossover, and read books aimed at your age group in bookstores and libraries so you get to know the market.  It will help you focus.

I am very passionate about Young Adult fiction, for instance Stephenie Meyer’s hugely commercial TWILIGHT series.  Publishers are now overloaded with vampire books though, so I am looking for something equally readable in terms of voice but without a supernatural edge.  I think straight YA thrillers are going to do very well and I have recently taken on the author of NIGHT SCHOOL, C.J Daugherty, whose work I sold to Atom / Little, Brown for a 2012 publication.  Psychological suspense is always a winner and I’d like to see more YA fiction in this genre, leading on from recent trends in adult fiction, for instance the success of the psychological thriller  BEFORE I GO TO SLEEP by S J Watson,  based around the protagonist Christine who loses her memory when she goes to sleep and has to start afresh every time she wakes up.

A book I would love to represent from its pitch alone is THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT by Jennifer E. Smith.  To me, it sounds like a YA version of David Nicholls’ ONE DAY with elements of the film SLIDING DOORS, about chance, fate and connections.  A love story told in a different way.  I particularly like the fact that it takes place over a 24-hour period too.  I’m looking forward to reading my proof.

It is important to remember that there are no real rules and it is not worth writing to trends.  It is all about your voice, your central character and your story. You want to think about leading the next trend.

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Right now, I am looking for…

…a book that is more reading-group, something that can be pitched in the more upmarket, literary cross-over area.  A book that will appeal to readers of Maggie O’Farrell, a book to follow THE LOVELY BONES, THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE, THE MEMORY KEEPER’S DAUGHTER, SISTER.   If you have written a book that you believe works in this area, i.e a book that would sit well on Richard & Judy’s bookshelf, do send it to me.   

And, I ALWAYS love popular commercial fiction, no matter what mood I am in.

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