2018 releases

Hell's Bell
Scent of the Jaguar
His Outback Nanny
The Queen's Game
366 Days of Flash Fiction
On the Horizon: Simple worlds of speculative adventure
Lusting the Enemy

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Magic Thursday Giveaway: Keri Arthur

Do you read in the same genre that you write?

I used to, but these days I normally read anything but the paranormal/urban fantasy genre. I spend so much time writing urban fantasy that the last thing I want to do when I sit down to read is pick up yet more urban fantasy.

And yet, it seems to be the accepted wisdom that an author should read in their own genre to keep up with not only is going on, but where the trends are and what is selling. I've even heard it said that you should read at least 25—30 books in a genre before you even think of writing in it.

Which is actually a figure I surpassed long, long ago, because I've been reading fantasy since I was a teenager. And while I may no longer read many books in the urban fantasy genre, I read blogs, I read reviews, I subscribe to publishers marketplace, and I talk to lots of other writers, so I have a have idea what is going on in the writing world. I've also never been a follower of trends, which is a major part of the reason why it took me so long to sell. I had to wait for the trends to catch up with what I was already writing.

I also think that there's a danger in reading too much within the field that you write in. You can get so immersed in the tropes of the genre that you forget to write outside the box—and that can often lead to the 'same old same old' criticism you so often see in reviews.

But that's just my opinion. What about you? How much do you read of your own genre? How important do you think it even is?

There is a giveaway involved—one urban fantasy, one not. The first book is Haunted, by Kelley Armstrong, and the second The Viscount who Loved Me, by Julia Quinn.


  1. Hi Keri,

    I've heard a lot of those pieces of advice too. I've tried to do the read what you write thing but I more skirt around it. I read a lot in the speculative fiction arena as a big umbrella, but I don't read much in the more specific genre I write.

    I think if you're keeping up with what others are doing via other means (blogs, competitions finalists, websites, cons & general interaction) you have an idea of what's going on.

    I will caveat for when you're an absolute beginner and go "I want to write Regency" and have never ever read any type of historical - probably a good idea to go see how the masters of that genre do it. Then, you can run with it the way you see fit.

    Like you I also take breaks from the genre by taking time out reading in other arenas. I like calling myself a reading omnivore.

    Good post. Now I have thoughts to fill my brain as I do the groceries *lol*.

  2. I agree that newbie writers need to at least understand the genre before they attempt to write it--esp when it comes to regencies! Regency fans can be viscous if you get it wrong. lol

  3. Hey Keri,
    this raises interesting questions. And yep, we've all heard the 'read what you write' advice, probably multiple times.
    I read across the board when it comes to sub-genres. Historicals, paranormal, high fantasy, sci-fi, rom sus. I'm also writing in 2 different genres, sci-fi and rom sus.
    I read plenty of both. BUT my personal rule is not to read what I'm writing while I'm writing it. So, at them moment, I'm in the middle of writing a rom sus. I'm reading The Warlord's Daughter by Susan Grant. Its probably silly, but I worry that if I'm reading the same thing I'm writing, some of the author's ideas/influence might creep into my work without me realizing it. While you might not notice so much with a rom sus, coz they're pretty stock-standard in terms of the world's rules, this phenomonem would be really bad if it happened while I was working on a sci-fi. Don't want to go straling another author's technology or ideas!
    And you're right, sometimes the last thing I want to do is read more rom sus when I've just spent the last few months working on one!
    Great post!

  4. I write Urban Fantasy, and I try to avoid reading a lot of UF books out there right now. It's not because I don't *want* to read them, but I don't want to have them inadvertently influence me when I plot. Plus, I get my paranormal fix by reading PNRs :)

    I agree, though, that it's important to understand the genre you want to write before you start writing.

  5. I am not an author, I am a "want to be" and I look at it like research, that I love! I hope to some day write paranormal romance, so for now my reading is research for the future! But I also enjoy contemporary and historical romance as well. Maybe when I finally sit down to write my novel(s) I will be able to combine all the genre's I enjoy.

  6. I definitely agree it's important to read books in the genre you write in. I write sci-fi romance, and I just finished book #4 in the Jax series by Ann Aguirre - great books!

    But I also think you need to read other genres as well. Variety is the spice of life! Just because I write romance doesn't mean I can't enjoy my all-time favorite author, Stephen King! I also love dystopians, and anything Jodi Picoult comes out with (newest release next week!) is always on my TBR list!

  7. It's a tricky one :) I find that reading too much in my own genre can stifle my creativity, or more specifically my courage -- it makes me shy away from certain ideas 'because they've already been done'.

    Bad idea. Let's face it, if we all did this there would be no paranormal romance or UF. It's your own twist on familiar ideas that's important. All art is theft :) we take it, we reverse it, we twist it or paint it another colour or whatever.

    If I don't read, I can't twist. Or, I won't know what's been done, and my ideas might end up too much the same. Not enough twisting.

    I like to read in moderation, then. Some tropes just don't interest me, so I leave them aside. But most I dip. A bit of this, a bit of that.

  8. I've only read a few books in the specific genre I am writing for, but I have been tempted to add the urban supernatural side into it - though I think I have possibly read 1000 at the moment

  9. Cool post, Keri.

    I write PR & UF, and read pretty widely in these genres. I still love to pick up a historical, sci-fi or some romantic women's fiction, but I find that reading in the genre I write in fuels the fire, so to speak. But yeah, I am also mindful of cross-pollination as well. :)

    I'm reading a craft book by Damon Knight at the moment. In it, he says that the 'write what you know' bizzo means that there would be no historical fiction, no sci-fi, no fantasy. And how sad would that be?! I think that applies, as Nikki said, perhaps to writers who fancy writing, say, fantasy, but have never read in that genre. Just to get a feel for it. After that, go crazy!

  10. Keri, agree absolutely that when starting out it's good to know what the genre is doing. Am astounded by people who decide they're going to write *insert current bestselling genre here* without knowing anything except the rumours of it.

    I personally find it important to read well outside the genre to help build other aspects of writing. For example, recently I've been reading a lot of murder mysteries cause I've got one as a plotline in one book. I like reading urban fantasy, particularly the darker stuff, because I naturally write lighter stuff and I want to challenge myself. Reading a variety of romance subgenres helps me get a feel for building relationships. Fantasy helps with the worldbuilding stuff.

    And then, when my brain needs a break, I pick up my favourite paranormal romances and just sigh into it :)

  11. My first attempt at a book was fantasy, dragons and sorcerers. I am very much into reading paranormal right now, vamps, weres, angels,etc. I did find it a little hard to write in the fantasy style whilst reading the other genre. I have recently put that one aside for a later date and started writing another idea I had. This one is paranormal and even though I have only written one and a half chapters I must admit that I do find it easier to relate to the story I want to write because of what I read. Kind of puts you in the mood and it is helpful to see how other authors write theirs.
    I do have a huge collection of fantasy I used to read when I was younger, Raymond Feist, Robert Jordan,etc. Maybe when I have finished this second book I will start reading my fantasy novels again to get me into the swing of it. :)

  12. Hi Keri, I have to say it is important to know the genre that you are interested in working in. I am a beginner, but I have been practicing for this point my whole life. I am well rounded in different genres and I love them all. When I write I want it to come from my crazy imagination. I want people to see how much and how far I can take a simple subject and push it over the edge. I love to read, but I do not want someone else's work to influence my ideas. So I have to just let my mind do the work when I write and only let my eyes do the work for fun.

  13. I've gotten the advice of "read what you write" several times, but more for research purposes. No one has expressly said that if I want to ever be a successful writer I must read every single book in my genre.

    I produce more pages and better flow when I haven't been reading anything at all. That's actually why I started writing.

    One summer as a young teen, I had read every single book that my mom would allow me to read at home and at the library (it was a very small library and she was very strict) so out of boredom, I picked up a pen and a notebook and set out to create my own story. By the end of the summer, I had created 6 short, dark, fairy tales and one YA romance.

    The same holds true for me now. I write better when my brain is in creative starvation mode. I also have a hard time focusing on a book to read when I am working on a book to write. I can multitask my husband, kids, animals and job all day long without a problem, but reading while writing is still beyond me. lol

    Really, I think it is just a matter of what works best for you. :)

  14. I write PNR and I read it -- can't see myself ever giving it up. But I read wider, too. Other genres, contemp mysteries, category romances, history. I like being part of the PNR reading community.

  15. I think just reading is more important than reading in your genre - though you can certainly avoid doing what's been done by being genre specific. But I think people who don't even read preaching about writing novels is a much bigger problem (annoyance). :P

    Personally, my writing reflects my reading: I like to try a little bit of everything.

  16. I read all over the place - I think reading in only one genre will stifle me not only as a writer but a reader as well. Due to ill health there had been a long stint where I didn't read at all. And when I did start it was category romance and Harry Potter.

    Now, I'm reading fantasies that were released years ago, so I don't follow 'trends' either. And thanks to a mix up with library's computer system, requests came in at once. Interestingly enough, the approach of reading a little of each book and returning it is actually working and keeping the varied types of books flowing and I don't feel just like one style is overwhelming another.

    I must admit that in the last few years I've increased reading paranormal romance and urban fantasy - but because I'm varied I am nowhere near up to date either. So I'm just going with the flow and that is helping me not feel suffocated with one genre or feel like the style I'm reading will be influencing my writing.

    But then again, I'm a believer in whatever we experience and read and watch influences us generally. OK, this has become an essay :D Interesting topic Keri.

  17. I do read widely in my genre of YA but it's only because right now they are the books that I'm drawn to - it's also pretty handy since I work part time as a teen librarian!

    However, I'm a big believer in reading what you to want to read, not what you think you should read, because otherwise it starts to feel like work!!!

  18. I think it's just a personal opinion :-) I'm not sure if it does any good, but I'm also sure it doesn't do any harm.