Spring has been creeping up, ambushing us with thunderstorms and lightning a week after a snowfall, with downpours that filled holding tanks and turned fields of clay to marshland, havens for the ducks. No flowers. Last spring at this time a solitary iris bloomed in the front garden.
It’s time to rake the leaves and twigs off the garden beds and plan a fresh covering of mulch. The chores of spring, a relief after a long winter of bone-breaking cold and ice and deep snow.
I’ve lost track of which draft of my work-in-progress I’m working on. It may be the 5th or 6th, but it’s growing closer to what I would like it to be.
That’s the problem, of course. What genre is it? Suspense, women’s fiction, commercial fiction, romantic suspense or my personal favourite: cross-genre.
My aim is a tightly-plotted page-turner that also says something about redemption and renewal in a woman’s life. Too lofty a goal, too literary for a novel that includes a brutal killer and guns?
In the U.K. newspaper, The Guardian, Anita Mason, whose The Illusionist was shortlisted for the 1983 Booker prize, in an article that was adapted from an Oxford Literary Festival debate said:
So: of course there is a difference between literary and genre fiction. Our experience as readers tells us so, commercial practice says so. But it is not the difference between two continents separated by ocean. It is the difference between the two ends of a continuum. Between those two points is an infinity of fruitful positions.
In the Oxford Literary Festival debate, she spoke against the motion “Genre fiction is no different from literary fiction”. The article is worth the read and can be found here.
That’s where I aim to be with this work-in-progress, on the continuum, moving a little closer to the hub where literary fiction lives.
Themes, symbols, literary devices of all types: all tools in crafting a novel.