E-Reads had a great post yesterday from Richard Curtis: “What Serious Writers Can Learn From Genre Comrades in Arms.” It was a great piece, originally written in 1990, and one that spoke particularly to me because I always wonder what’s in between those two camps.
I love genre fiction. Mysteries and Nora Roberts make up 90 percent of my fiction collection. I collect vintage kids’ mystery series. I’ll occasionally dip into fantasy or sci-fi. My stories, however, don’t really fall into a genre — they don’t have that distinctive element that each genre has, whether it’s a mystery or a romance…
But every time I run into writers who write literary fiction, I don’t feel like I fit there either. I don’t consider my stories shallow or commercial, but they’re just that — stories. I’m not trying to send a message. I’m not thinking about symbolism or metaphor or anything that’s a hallmark of “serious literature.” I want to tell a good story that engages readers. Exeter stories aren’t a beach read in the traditional sense. They’re not women’s fiction — I’ve got too many guys in main roles. I’ve never been able to categorize them.
Sometimes I think we do a disservice as both readers and writers by parceling the world into these two camps — genre and literary — and not leaving room for stories that are fiction without being a genre — fiction without being literature.