Hello Dear Readers,
A couple of weeks ago, my online friend Laura Best wrote a blog post that got me thinking. Do we choose our genre, or does it choose us?
I read somewhere that authors write the kind of books they like to read, but that’s certainly not always the case. I was once at a conference where someone asked best-selling horror author John Saul what books in the genre he liked to read. Saul laughed and said, “I can’t read that stuff! It would scare me to death.”
As for me, I write psychological suspense, but I rarely read it. While I’m attracted to movies of that genre, most of the books I’ve read have been pretty disappointing. I write the type of psychological suspense that I wish existed, I guess.
When I was younger, I was attracted to horror stories and mysteries…the darker, the better. I’ve always been keenly interested in the dark side of human nature. My mother reads a lot of true crime, and as a young adult, I quickly worked my way through her selection of books. We even shared library books a lot of the time. There was something about the evil committed by seemingly ordinary people that intrigued me. What made a man turn out like Ted Bundy? What drove a woman to torture and kill her own child? Why would one ethnic group wipe out another? The lack of answers haunted me.
A high school writing instructor, who was influential at that point in my life, despised happy endings. He referred to them as “Disney”, and the easiest way to avoid a Disney ending (and thus make him happy) was to write horror. In a horror story, the hero doesn’t have to save the day. Evil sometimes wins, just as it does in real life. I liked the freedom this gave me.
As much as I loved a good scary tale, there wasn’t much in the horror genre that could hold my interest. The Stephen Kings of the world are, sadly, very few and far between. And I decided, based on my growing experience with true crime, that the real evil that lurked in people was much more frightening than a haunted car. I fell into writing psychological suspense before I even knew what it was called.
How about you, Dear Readers? What genre do you write? Did you choose it, or did it choose you? Do you read books of that genre? Why or why not? Do you ever wish you could change genres? What other genre would you write in, if you could?