Like many a refugee from conventional fiction publishing, one of the things I fled was being crammed into what felt like the wrong genre. In my case, what the publisher liked to call ‘chick-lit'.
Pursuing the huge audience for such books, they changed my title [from ‘After The Rising' to ‘Lovers' Hollow'] and gave the book a jacket I disliked.
I went along with this pinkification because they were the experts in marketing and sales, skills I knew little about at the time. They said it would bring in more readers. And every writer wants more readers.
Or so I thought then. Now that I'm going indie, and have to consider things like sales and marketing myself, what I believe desirable is not more readers so much as the right readers.
Which is what has me thinking about genre.
And that there's no real genre for the kind of fiction I try to write. I've searched. The only one I could find that might tally was ‘Hen Lit'. And that's a coop I'm not hopping into.
Indeed, rather than see this label catch on (it being just the kind of label that does), I'd like to suggest an alternative. Yes, I hereby launch a new literary genre. To be called (drum roll! te dah! ): Wise Old Bird Lit.
Unlike chick lit or hen lit, that sounds to me like a category of fiction worth aiming for — for both readers and writers. And as Browning said, ‘the aim – if reached or not – makes great the [wo]man”.
A wise old bird can be male or female, indeed they'll be wise enough to accept that we all have a mix of both of these aspects in us.
They write books that can be both historical AND contemporary, that can run a murder mystery AND a strong relationship stories, without being pure crime or romance. They can decline to be purely literary or purely commercial. They can value character as much as plot, description as much as revelation.
In short, they can be multi-dimensional.
If that's the kind of fiction you like to read or to write, there's a brand new Facebook Page awaiting your comments, book recommendations and general involvement: HERE
And you can follow the chat and links on Twitter with the hashtag #wiseoldbirdlit: HERE
Hen lit, indeed. Cluck!