Genres Suck (get over it)

Monday 18th April 2016

Cover of Crimson Halo by RG Manse

Don’t get me started on genres. But whether you think genres take you on exhilarating new journeys or on a familiar trudge along worn-out paths where only the donkey droppings are fresh, there’s one thing for sure: you’re far more likely to go looking for a book if it’s similar to another book you liked.

If I want readers to find my books, I have to make them more like other books. I have to nail a (sub)genre.

Mystery should be the ideal genre for me because my books are chock full of mystery. The big but(t) is, they’re not murder mysteries so genre readers won’t keep reading. And I don’t derive much reading satisfaction from murder mysteries so it’s little wonder I had to give up trying to write one.

As a reader, I’m far more likely to pick up a thriller. Three-dimensional characters flourish in thrillers and characters are massively important to me when I’m writing. Another plus for thrillers is that any set-up can make a great thriller, so I won’t have to write the same book time and again.


I’ve been working on not one but two thrillers.


Crimson Halo (working title)

Genre: Futuristic Crime Thriller

Similar To: JD Robb’s In Death series (and tons of other police crime thrillers)

The sole witness to a brutal slaying swears the killer was seven feet tall and had the wings of an angel.

Antisocial genetics expert Ruth Friendship at first suspects the killer is one of four bioengineered superhumans. But when more victims start to appear, Ruth and her police partner enter a race against time to save the supermen and take down the real killer.

The odds are bleak. The only apparent connection between the murders is that each kill is more gruesome than the last… and now Ruth is on the hit list.

Red Rage (working title)

Genre: Serial Killer Thriller

Similar To: dozens of other crime thrillers

Brilliant PhD student Jo Harrison is abducted from an Ayrshire beach. Two years later, she shows up, alive but unable to speak.

Jo’s sister Erica is filled with guilt and helpless rage — until autistic data nerd Max Friendship offers to help her take down the man responsible. Max’s plan requires Erica to let herself be captured by a monster who uses a club hammer to smash in his victims’ skulls. But he does something far more horrifying first.

There’s a reason Jo was released, a reason she can’t speak, and Erica is about to discover that the dead girls might just have been the lucky ones.

Fans of Frank Friendship might be pleased to note the surname of two of the characters — and to find out that some of Frank’s… endearing traits are the result of certain genes in the Friendship family tree.

Other stuff

The other idea I’ve been working on is a sci-fi post-apocalyptic trilogy, and I’d love to write more of this. But post-apocalyptic readers generally want a present-day survivalist fantasy (ideally with zombies), so my fusion of Robert Louis Stevenson and Neal Stephenson is probably too far off-beam to have a hope of finding an audience (i.e. it’s another victim of genre).

The Last Mirror (working title)

Genre: Post-apocalyptic (YA?) sci-fi

Similar To: dunno (that’s the problem)

2195, the Kingdom of Scotland. A cart, driven hard, rattles away from the gallows on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle. Riding in the back, seventeen-year-old Heather clutches her true love’s bloody but still-warm hand. Their destination, a safe house and Heather’s only hope: the outlawed and decrepit technology she prays will preserve Robert’s body until she can find a dark scientist to resurrect him. But Heather’s actions tonight have not gone unobserved.

A century has passed since the Slide and all over Old Europe and on the habitable fringes of the Great American Wastelands, the Church of the New Son is purging the last vestiges of technology, killing genetically engineered beings, forcing conversions to a new faith and a return to old values. The Church’s only opposition — a coalition of artists and scientists, atheists and believers — has proven surprisingly resilient.

But the fallen Robert had connections, and Heather’s passion to bring him back from the dead might just be strong enough to lead the Church to the ultimate prize: Mirror 4, the world’s last fully operational, still-connected data centre.

Would you rush to read any of these stories? Please reply in the comments; I’d love to know.

I’m sharing exclusive content with my mailing list. If you’re not signed up, you won’t see it. Click here to be included.

comments powered by Disqus