Meet Author Maureen O. Betita today at the Book Boost.
Here's what she had to say...
I’m a Product of the Genre Laboratories
I’ve worked a lot as a bookseller, in bookstores. I began at Little Professor Books, a franchise that has long been gone. Then I worked at Tower Books, followed by Scribners Bookseller. I spent a few years at a metaphysical bookstore and my last stint was at a small independent store that is presently on its last legs.
I always enjoyed the job. The perks were great, generally involving ‘take a book home and read it, bring it back and help sell it’ and a deep discount for books I chose to make mine. Plus those ARCs. (I still have some very nice ARCs, btw. First three Kim Harrisons, for example. Any bids?)
Customers weren’t always the favorite part of the job, but as the technology grew easier to help even the most difficult customer. (I can remember trying to find books with little more than the book cover color to go by. And the word love in the title.) Researching titles with little more than tiny plot elements became easier and easier as the technology improved.
What became more and more difficult through the years was stocking every title correctly. Honestly, where does Kim Harrison go? I remember shelving her in mystery, but I argued with a store manager that the books could be in romance, fantasy, science fiction… (we had no separate paranormal section.) I remember the same struggle with Laurell K. Hamilton.
As the lines between genres grew more and more blurry, it got harder. It is true that a great many books come with the genre provided on the cover. One the publisher provides. Or it’s on the inventory list. But they don’t always get it right. And depending on what the bookstore specializes in, or where it has room…especially the independents, things get blurry.
And where do new genres go? In a standard bookstore, where would you stock steampunk? Is it fantasy? Science Fiction? Or when dealing with something like Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate, romance?
Take my word for it, it isn’t always easy!
I was put in charge of romance in one of the stores I worked at. And I fought to include titles that danced in the shadows between genres. I was trying desperately to fill the romance shelves with something other than the obvious and stereotypical titles.
One of the large independents in the county I live in now stocks virtually no romance. At least not if you go by what they shelf in their romance sections. But I can wander through the mystery sections, the fantasy sections, the science fiction, horror, suspense, general fiction sections and find many authors I would call romance.
Which leads me to the genre I write. As I began to consider writing a professional calling, I matter-of-factly told my first writing teacher, at the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention, that I wrote adventure.
Oops. There really is no genre called adventure. There is male adventure. Or there was at several of the stores I called home at one time or another. Or military fiction they sometimes called it.
But I considered what I wrote more along the lines of Robin Hood, or Tarzan of the Apes. I mentioned to the teacher that the heroine was a witch when she asked for more detail.
“Oh, you write paranormal!” she said.
I frowned. “Not exactly. I mean, she’s a witch but it’s not like it defines the whole book.”
(I never really won this argument, one way or the other. I considered it this way. If your lead plays basketball, then it isn’t necessarily a sports story, so why would her being a witch see the story called a paranormal?)
“She falls in love with a pirate.” I added.
“Then it’s a paranormal romance. Or a historical.”
Again, I frowned. “No, not historical. I mean she travels through time, but…”
“Then it’s a time travel romance.”
“No, the only bit of time travel is her arrival. And it isn’t the historical pirate era, magic is real in this world…but it’s not our world. It’s an alternate world.”
“And her magic comes from sexual energy.”
“Oh, it’s an erotic romance…”
Hi, I’m Maureen O. Betita, and after crawling out of the experimental laboratories of the genre research centers, I decided to start my own genre. I write piratepunk. I also believe strongly in older romantic couples. I write Silverton books. (Silverton = those who come by silver in their hair through age and experience.)
Why can’t I invent my own genre? That’s how I look at it. Agents will call it one thing, publishers another, distributors another, readers (hopefully) another. I call it piratepunk with Silverton leads. When I’m not writing straight science fiction romance or erotica…or fantasy…
My head hurts.
A Note from the Book Boost: As a writer of just about every genre under the sun (but no pirate punk as of yet), I can totally relate to your story. Thanks for sharing your experience through the years and the way genres continue to grow and meld together. Please tell us more about your story.
Treated by our youth oriented society as invisible and sexless Emily Pawes attends a pirate festival to recapture the make believe magic she knew as a younger woman. She wins an interesting bit of booty at an old woman's bric-a-brac stand. The Kraken's mirror is a magical portal and transports her to a land of Hollywood piratitude, where swashbuckling heroes own iPods. With little choice, she embraces the madness, deciding she’ll play pirate until she figures out how to get home. Or wakes up in a padded cell.
Instead of men in little white coats, she encounters the handsome Captain Alan Silvestri. He is a man haunted by a strange curse. Good luck is his to command, but it comes at the cost of any place to call home or people to call family. Resigned to die shunned by all, forced to sail every three days, he begins to dream of a special woman.
When they meet, sparks fly, passion flares. He needs her to be free, but more than that, he needs her to be whole. They set sail, uncertain of who has control of the wheel, seeking to defeat his curse of good luck and discover all the Kraken’s mirror plans for them.
The enigmatic woman turned away from him, chuckling.
“Oh, relishing the clichés. I’m…Pawes. Call me Pawes.” She held out a hand, moving it side to side as if searching for him.
“Ah, women do like to take their time.” He pressed a quick kiss on her knuckles and slowly released her.
He detected a slight hesitation before she nodded. “Yes. While men generally are in a hurry.”
She turned her face toward him. “And you?”
“Call me Alan, Miss Pawes.”
“No, Pawes or Mrs. Pawes if you like, please.” Drawing a deep breath, she tried to focus on him, then winced, closing her eyes tightly. “You were behind me. Why didn’t it hit you?”
“Because I was behind you, but I turned my face away in time. Let me escort you somewhere quiet and buy you a drink.”
“Are your intentions honorable?” Her head tilted.
“Of course not, but not actually dishonorable. I promise to warn you if driven to some despicable bit of deviltry.” He must have impressed her, because a smile danced across her face, that upward turn of her lips to the left exactly as he remembered from his dreams. He wondered if the rest of the details were the same.