Genre Bending

Third time’s the charm. That’s what they say.

Practicing Normal is my third novel, and while my debut novel, I’m Not Her, will always have my heart and my second novel, Girls’ Weekend, touched a nerve in moms from all walks of life, this third one is good. Really good.

I think it perfectly merges the audiences of my first and second novel like a neat Venn diagram. Plenty of crossover between the genres of women’s fiction, young adult, mommy lit, and new adult.

Genres can be confining. Having to label my work has always been a struggle for me. I write stories. Generally about women, but a few men, and usually a teenager or two.

Are they women’s fiction? Sure.

Would a man read them? Yes. Some of my biggest fans are male.

How about teenagers? Yup. They like my books, too.

How about romance? Do they fit into that genre? Depends on how you define romance.

Coming of age story? Definitely. Everyone is coming of age.

There’s even a splash of mystery tossed in for good measure. As I said, genres can be confining.

Still, genres help us sort through the plethora of books on the shelves. The fiction section can be overwhelming. Women’s fiction has yet to claim its own shelf space in many libraries or bookstores, but it’s a strong genre that is specific to women, taking you on an emotional journey. I hold out hope that it will one day claim its own shelf.

But if women’s fiction gets its own shelf, does that mean we also offer a rack of men’s fiction?

Although it’s unlabeled as such, men’s fiction quite definitely exists. I’ve read a couple of them lately. I would call The Life We Bury by Allen Eskins and The Secret Wisdom of the Earth by Christopher Scotton men’s fiction, along with most of what is written by Jonathon Tropper or Tom Perotta. The protagonists are generally male and there is normally sex and/or action aplenty, but there’s also themes that men struggle with—like competition, masculinity, and dominance examined through internal struggles, dialogue, and relationships. I’ve enjoyed those books, but then I’ve always passed them on to my husband, rather than girlfriends.

Many thrillers and action books crossover into men’s fiction, but sometimes women’s fiction can be thrilling and action-packed. It’s tricky, I suppose. Given the opportunity, I might rearrange the entire store.

Book genres, much like our world, are evolving and becoming more and more niche. Maybe it isn’t necessary to so specifically label fiction genres. It’s all nonfiction and fiction, right? Or is it? Even those lines are blurring these days.

It comes down to what a winery owner told me once when I was tasting wine at a small vineyard in Virginia. He said, “There are really only two types of wine. Wine-you-like and wine-you-don’t.”

Perhaps, it’s the same for books.

My third novel, Practicing Normal, is released today in ebook form (the paperback officially releases June 6 and I haven’t been given a date for the audiobook yet).

Here’s hoping it’s a book-you-like.

Practicing Normal Cover

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Author: Cara Sue Achterberg

I am a writer, blogger, and occasional cowgirl who lives on a hillside farm in Southern York County, PA. You can find information about my books and all my writing adventures on my website CaraWrites.com.

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