I've see a lot of so-called mysteries lately that really meant to be something else. Only about an hour ago, I discarded a book by a writer who came very highly recommended. It was a historical mystery set in ancient Egypt. This isn't really my field and I have no interest in Egypt, besides I rarely read historical mysteries (though I write them), but I did get this one because of the great praise for the author that I read on another site.

Here is what I found: First person narrative by a young female of royal blood who strays among the common folks during a Nile flood, gets swept away along with a crocodile, and saved at the last moment by a handsome and virile young courtier. At this point, I was disgusted and checked the end of the book. (Checking the end of a mystery for me always means death to the book.) Sure enough, there is a happy end: she is in love and marries. As it turns out, she marries another man, but apparently after a romantic relationship with her savior. This makes this book a romance, as far as I'm concerned. The fact that there might have been a mystery somewhere in the middle doesn't change the fact.

So here's my topic: given the fact that many authors seem to write in more than one genre at the same time to reach the largest possible readership, do you find this a good thing, or are you as disappointed as I was? Crossing between romance and mystery may be the most common example, but we also have mysteries linking to horror, secret agents, vampires, SF, fantasy, and other subgenres. 

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You are righ on!  Mixing genre seems to me to dilute each.

Well, it may be that writing to an audience puts constraints on the author that make the book ultimately mediocre.

Isn't that always the way. Writing to a market is likely to stultify the creative process. A bit like X Factor, no originality, only covers of earlier work.:)

i think it all depends how it is done. for example i love john connolley's 'charlie parker' novels  but tend to consider them crime over supernatural although they certainly draw on those elements and david a riley's 'the return' goes the other way in that it is a horror novel with some crime elements to it, or William Hjortsberg which again straddles the horror/crime line. personally im a big fan of cross genre work BUT as has already been said I would be annoyed if i picked up a book expecting crime and got something else entirely (which sort of happened when i bought Soho 4am but i quite enjoyed that for what it was - and later realised i picked it up in the 'normal' section of the book shop not the crime section...

I think at the end of the day it is all about reader expectation. If you write a romance and bill it as a crime thriller the reader who's expecting a romance is going to be pissed. But if you have equal parts crime and romance you might be okay, as long as that is clear in your presentation material.

As for writing to market, my suggestion is to write what you want--what you love--then figure out how to market it later. Remember if you write a story you would want to read, then there will be others out there who will want to read it too.

As indie publishers we can control readers expectations by communicating what are books are about in the cover art and presentation we choose, in the back cover copy we write and in the categories and tags we choose when we publish through the e-markets.

I think the key is to not mislead the reader. 

Spot on comment David. Write what you want to write. It's the way I do it. 

I've written a series of crime thrillers and self-pubbed a couple but fancied a change. My current WIP is a cross genre, horror/thriller/romance/sifi - have no idea how to market it, but having fun writing the m/s.  

During the rewrite I might have to slant it towards one genre if I want to find a market. 


Some authors manage to cross the mystery and romance genres well. Mary Higgins Clark comes to mind and I'm sure there are others. If you, personally, don't like that type of book and prefer a "pure" mystery that's fine. But I don't think that writers who include other genres with their mystery are breaking an unwritten law doing something bad. I like a little romance in my mysteries. I don't like the vampire and zombie mysteries, but I might not discard one that was well written for that reason alone. I would be in favor of distinguishing mysteries by using classic mystery as a separate genre. That would lessen disappointment with books that cross genre too much. 

These's nothing wrong with mixing genres, but there's everything wrong with mixing genres badly. The unacceptable thing to me, is bad storytelling.

As other people have said before me, it's a matter of degree and purpose. The main purpose of a mystery is to investigate a crime and solve it. It is permissible in any genre to focus on character. In that case, if a series protagonist hits a place in his life where romance happens and makes for a possible distraction it seems to me appropriate.

Absolutely, I.J.

Likewise, if a romantic event earlier in his life led to tragedy, that event will have a profound effect on his character development. Especially if his action (or inaction) led to the tragedy. 

Better stop there or I'll be giving away too much of a spoiler. :)

That, too, sounds appropriate material in a novel.  Backstory. Probably only in his head.

Or in the case of my novel, shown in a prequel. :)


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