Fear in Writing: Writers writing something else

Today in Literary History

Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Writers writing something else

As a strange coincidence, I have books by three authors on my nightstand--and they are all out of genre for the writers!  Sunday night I began The Witch's Boy by Michael Gruber.  I've read his mystery/scyfy/thriller series featuring Detective Jimmy Paz.  But my favorites of this talented author are his art/history literary mysteries, including The Book of Air and Shadows and The Forgery of Venus.  I automatically bought The Witch's Boy without even reading the description because I'd read anything by Gruber.  Surprise!  It's a fantasy "retelling of classic fairy tales...the stunning new tale of a boy raised by a witch, a cat, a bear, and a demon" (books).  So far, it's really fascinating and magically intriguing.

Also on my endtable, John Grisham's Ford County and The Given Day by Dennis Lehane.  The latter isn't so much off-genre for the author as it is for me.  Lehane has written other historical dramas, including Coronado and the psychological thriller Shutter Island (books).  But it is still odd for me to have so many mystery writers' non-mystery books!

Do you find yourself exploring the off-basic exploits of your favorite authors?  Do you like it when an author tries something new?  Have you ever written off-genre?


  1. Michele - Interesting question!!! I actually have explored a few off-genre things by people like Agatha Christie (who wrote a few romance novels), by Isaac Asimov (who wrote both science fiction and "straight" science, as well as mysteries) and some other people. I think it's fascinating to do that, because it gives the reader a whole new perspective on the author.

    I've written off-genre myself. I've written non-fiction and mystery fiction. I've also written (but thankfully, never published) a little poetry. It stretches me, I think...

  2. I think it's natural for writers to dabble in genres that are not what they're known for. I, for example, have written a cozy, a romance, a YA, some short stories, and of course, my mysteries.

    I love the challenge. Someday I plan to write a non-fiction.


  3. I choose genre first, then the author, so if an author chooses to test the waters in a different realm I won't necessarily follow them unless its in one that I like to read. It doesn't happen very often.

  4. Not a lot of authors can get away with this. Like childhood actors, the audience forms a particular type set of authors. Its difficult to make that major shift. I expect a certain creepiness from Stephen King and Dean Koontz when I read their books. This is probably not fair to the author, but it is reality, at least to a large extent.

  5. Margot- I've written poetry as well, but only for myself. Christie wrote romances! I had no idea! Ever the font of knowledge...

    Clarissa- Challenge is exactly the write word.

    DL- I'm the same way. These are all anomalies for me--and happened to show up at the same time!

    Stephen- Very true. Great comparison!

  6. I find that when I read something off genre by really prolific authors that I am in for a real treat. Want to know my conspiracy theory on the matter?

    I think someone (Like Grisham) with a formula for good books, is MADE by his agent and publishers to keep putting out tons of those, even when what he WANTS to write is something FABULOUS (A Painted House is my favorite of his and I think it was his first off-genre)--so they have to steal time... have a secret love affair. They put in heart and passion that their other books have gotten to sort of lack. They tell us all to brand ourselves, and it's not a bad idea for sales, but for quality, I'm not sure it is the best route and I think these off-genre books prove it.