Thursday, September 4, 2014

Intergalactic Avian Mutants on the Prairie (Or – You Read What????)




Have you ever succumbed to ‘random reading syndrome’? That moment when you’re book browsing and before you can blink, you have a title completely outside your favourite genre by an author you’ve never heard of in your hand. This could be because the cover was pretty, the title made you laugh, or there was a beetle precariously walking the edge of the binding and you were compelled to save it from plunging into the darkened crevasse between that and the next shelved title.

Readers are not the only who may suffer this ailment. Writers can also fall prey to a related condition. Not only might they read outside their favourite genre, but they might even WRITE outside it too, trialling alternate techniques within those genres just for fun!

I’m an offender on both counts. In fact, I don’t suffer from random reading syndrome, I enjoy in it! :) By forcing myself to read outside the known I’ve not only stumbled upon some wonderful books I might have otherwise missed, but I’ve learned so much: about me, about writing, about reading.

As writers it’s important to become familiar with our genres. I’ve read a heap more YA in the past year than I have in a decade, simply because I was writing into that genre and it had been a while since I’d read books targeted to that age group. But I think most writers can also identify the immense value in reading beyond what we write (including mainstream titles). Expanding out literary world is good for us. It’s also equally valuable to sometimes write outside our comfort zone. Not necessarily a whole novel, but even a short story or poem.

While studying creative writing I took the opportunity to explore different tenses and points of view while writing outside my most familiar genre. In one submission it was observed my written voice worked well with Chick Lit, so I also wrote a fantasy piece with a male protagonist. (Of course...)

Perhaps that’s why it makes sense I have two titles being released this month in two contrasting genres. Integrate is a YA fiction and was released on Monday this week. A Devil’s Ransom is a maritime historical romance to be released later in the month. I’ve loved writing them both, yet I’ve also realised how swiftly a writing focus can strangle our tendency for random reading bouts. For our own writing sakes we need to foster our inner random reader.

Besides, we might even become a fan of a genre or author we’d never otherwise encounter. Now there’s a great reason, if any, to turn into a different aisle in the bookstore next time we venture there. (And don’t forget to keep an eye for any book-walking beetles or giant intergalactic chickens ...)

Adele Jones lives in Queensland, Australia. She’s had a variety of short works published and has two novels being released in 2014—a YA SciFi and a historical maritime romance. Her writing is inspired by a passion for family, faith, friends, music and science – and a broad ranging imagination. To find out more visit www.adelejonesauthor.com

8 comments:

  1. Thanks Adele - What you say is so true. Reading in our own genre is essential, but I think writers sometimes underestimate how important it is to also read outside their genre as well. Reading broadly exposes us to different types of writing and techniques that we can use in our own work. I read a lot of mystery/suspense novels, and I've found that I've been able to use some of the lessons from that in other types of writing (e.g. how to end a chapter so that the reader wants to turn the page).

    I did a Grad Dip in Creative Writing a few years ago and had to get out of my comfort zone and write a whole range of different things: poetry, a stage play, a film script, creative non-fiction and short fiction. Even in the prose subject, we had to submit short stories in different styles, so we couldn't stay with our favourites. Not only did I learn lots of different techniques, but I also discovered I wasn't too bad at some forms I thought would be a struggle. Poetry can teach you how to spice up your imagery and metaphors in fiction; stage and screen scripts can help punch up your dialogue; fiction techniques can give your non-fiction more bite.

    Thanks for sharing Adele and congrats on the release of your two widely different novels. My only problem with your post is that you didn't tell us how we could buy 'Intergalactic Avian Mutants on the Prairie'. Is it on Amazon? ;)

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    1. I can certainly relate to your experience of being pushed out of your comfort zone. It made my stomach roll when I realised I had to submit a portion of each first draft to my supervisor very early in each course - warts and all. To add other genres and demonstrate a variety of techniques was at times nerve racking, but so valuable - in hindsight! I think it's only natural to stick with comfortable frontiers, so it takes purposeful measures to break our usual stride. As for 'Intergalactic Avian Mutants on the Prairie' ... You might have to wait a little for that release. I've got a couple of little projects I need to get done first. (Some sequel or such...) ;-)

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  2. I love reading widely, Adele, so totally agree with what you have written. And congratulations on the release of those two novels in two different genres--well done to you! I enjoy mixing it up in my writing too, although I'm told it's not good from a 'branding' angle. I'm so looking forward to getting back to writing another novel, after my recent second foray into non-fiction.

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    1. I'm delighted to hear that, Jo-Anne, and can see that diversity reflected in the titles you've had published. (I've noticed this previously in your work.) I must confess I find the branding thing perplexing at times. I can see validity in the point, but also wonder if we can become too rigid with such guides at times. But then, I'm not a marketing specialist either! I suppose I've put the whole multi-genre matter out there right up, so will see how it goes. :) All the best with your next project. And thanks for your comments.

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  3. Hi Adele, Had to chuckle at your post - from intergalactic avian mutants to wayward beetles on the bookshelf. Congratulations on having TWO books coming out in the same month - in different genres. Similar to Nola, I've been challenged to write in a wide range of styles and genres as part of my Master of Arts (Writing) and enjoyed the challenge. I agree it's vital to read in the genre you're writing and also agree that it's good to read more widely - and even to experiment with one's writing. Like Jo-Anne, I've read advice that its good to 'brand' oneself (especially when starting out) so that readers know what to expect but then I've heard another published author say that publishing in two different areas can help as well. Looking forward to reading Integrate :)

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    1. Pleased I could provide a giggle, Jenny. :) I had a little fun writing it, too. Talk about random writing prompts! Yes, I just replied to Jo-Anne on the branding matter. It's interesting how some authors seem to do it so well, while others struggle to branch out once established, even if they want to. It would be interesting to compare the writing journeys of a collection of multi-genre writers and do some stats on the popularity of their respective works. I hope that published author you mentioned (RE that it's beneficial to branch out) is correct. ;-) And I hope you enjoy reading Integrate.

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  4. Well done Adele, your books sound great. I'll look out for them.

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  5. I agree Adele with reading outside you area of interest and writing in different forms too. Good fun!

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