Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Spin the Wheel of Genre with Guest Blogger Laura Vosika

Win a signed copy of Blue Bells of Scotland when you chat with author Laura Vosika, TODAY at the Book Boost!

Laura is here to chat about crossing the genre lines and here is what she had to say...

People have always loved to categorize. What color is your parachute? What’s your learning style? Are you an autumn, winter, spring, or summer? We classify animals by phylum and species. We categorize books by the Dewey decimal system and genre.

It’s popular lately to dislike labels. But labels and genres serve a purpose. They help writers and publishers find each other. They help marketers summarize, target, and sell. They help stores shelve books. Most importantly, they help readers find books they like. But as new technology reinvents publishing, literary output has skyrocketed. From 1995 to 2005, the number of books published in the United States more than doubled.

The rise of numerous sub-genres and cross-genres is a natural result of this explosion. And while that presents some difficulties for publishers, marketers, and stores, I believe it’s also a good thing. People rarely fit neat labels. Our lives are multi-faceted. And more and more, as technology has allowed small publishers and independent authors a place in the writing world, fiction reflects that greater diversity. We now have, for instance, not just romance or historical romance, but the new category of paranormal romance. We have not just mysteries, but historical mysteries, paranormal mysteries, romantic mysteries and historical paranormal romantic mysteries.

What I like about cross-genre is that it reflects real life. Life is not just a romance, just a mystery, or just an adventure. As both writer and reader, I like books that reflect that. One of my writer friends, Ross Tarry, writes mysteries with romantic sub-plots. Lyn Miller LaCoursiere writes the Lindy Lewis series with equal doses of romance, mystery, and adventure.

Half of my own novel, Blue Bells of Scotland, takes place in medieval Scotland, making it historical fiction. But half revolves around Niall, a medieval warrior, and Amy, a young musician, in modern-day Scotland, making it contemporary fiction. The time travel connecting the two plots puts it in the paranormal category. The story of Shawn, a modern-day musician, is primarily adventure as he travels through the wilderness of medieval Scotland, pursued by English soldiers and a castle traitor.

A bit of a mystery weaves through as he and Niall seek the identity of that traitor. Many readers like the romance. Niall has a growing attraction for Amy in the twenty-first century, but an ultimate dedication and loyalty to his betrothed, Allene, back in the fourteenth. Because it is also a tale of redemption, the book could be called Christian fiction. Yet the fallen and struggling natures of the characters push it toward another emerging sub-genre, edgy Christian fiction. Shawn is a fallen man. Even Niall, the ‘good guy,’ has his weaknesses and temptations, because all people do. I write this way because it reflects real life. (Okay, well, maybe not the part about getting accidentally sucked into medieval Scotland!)

I believe readers are eager for more cross-genre work. Look at the success of The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger. Clearly a man who keeps disappearing in time is paranormal. At its heart, though, it is a story we can all relate to: love and two people facing adversity. Despite the obvious paranormal element, it is about real people living real lives, dealing with real problems. Lord of the Rings, a classic, has romance, fantasy, and adventure. The Lovely Bones is both mystery and supernatural. The Sparrow is a science fiction novel with Christian themes.

The explosion of genres and sub-genres, multiplying faster than plot bunnies, makes the world of reading more complex. I also think it makes it more fascinating, more real, more in tune with the lives we live. In all these cross- and sub-genres, I hear the sound of a great veil ripping, encouraging and allowing an explosion of creativity.

A Note from The Book Boost: I love time travel and as an author of a Scottish time travel book myself--I'm very interested in your book. I believe that crossing genre lines and "taking multiple pieces" of the genre pie is absolutely crucial in best selling novels today. Thanks for joining us and please tell us more about your book!


Shawn Kleiner has it all: money, fame, a skyrocketing career as an international musical phenomenon, his beautiful girlfriend Amy, and all the women he wants—until the night Amy has enough and abandons him in a Scottish castle.

He wakes to find himself mistaken for Niall Campbell, medieval Highland warrior. Soon after, he is sent shimmying down a wind-torn castle wall into a dangerous cross-country trek with Niall's tempting, but knife-wielding fiancee, pursued by English soldiers and a Scottish traitor who want Niall dead.

Thrown forward in time, Niall learns history's horrifying account of his own death, and of the Scots' slaughter at Bannockburn. Undaunted, he navigates the roiled waters of Shawn's life—pregnant girlfriend, amorous fans, enemies, gambling debts—seeking a way to leap back across time to save his people, especially his beloved Allene. But he finds himself liking Shawn's life....


Crashing into a boulder at the foot of the hill, Shawn leaned in, scooped the other man over his shoulder with strength he'd never had, and ran, jarring the monk with each step. The town appeared ahead. A more beautiful sight he'd never seen! Already, his chest heaved for air. His legs screamed for mercy. He couldn't look back. A stitch ripped through his side. Shapes formed ahead as he closed in: crowds! His salvation!

The merry sounds of a festival reached out to him. He pushed himself, Brother David's abused body slamming into his back, his moans filling his ears, and reached the edge of the throng.

Jugglers in harlequin clothing danced around him, spinning balls in the air. He gripped Brother David's legs, batting at the jugglers with his free hand, fought his way through to a booth laden with vegetables.

"Turnips, tasty turnips!" bawled an old woman, grabbing his sleeve. He spun his head, searching for Allene. Now there were more stalls, musicians strolling the street, a man with a monkey. He reached the outlying buildings of the town, his head twisting side to side, hunting for a hiding place.

"Your fortune for a penny," cried a scarved woman in front of a painted gypsy caravan.

"Breads, buns, rolls!" bellowed a fat man draped in white.

Shawn pushed through a gaggle of giggling children. Brother David grew heavier. Shawn's legs trembled under the weight. Stone houses and merchants' stalls rose around him.

"Fruits!" a young girl shrilled in his ear, snatching at his sleeve. "Five a penny!"

He took another step, twisted to peer down a dank alley for a hiding place.

An acrobatic team strolled by on their hands, pointy shoes waving in his face. A boy led a string of ponies, brushing against him, making him stumble. The smell of cheeses and fruits and meat and animals filled the air. Shawn spun, the weight of the monk on his shoulder growing; seeking sanctuary. People called and laughed. Colors spun in and out. His legs weakened under Brother David's weight.

"Alms!" cried a toothless beggar, stretching a bony hand from among rags.

His knee buckled. He grabbed a stone wall to steady himself.

Something gripped his elbow. He spun, yanking his arm back....

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Moridin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
The World of the Blue Bells Trilogy said...

Hi, Moridin,

I like mysteries and historical fiction best, but I'm really happy with any well-written story and interesting characters.