People often ask about the genre of Daughter of the South Wind. When I respond it's mythology, they get a confused look. I’ve now realized that I’m answering too specific because mythology isn’t one of the “recognized” genres. In essence, I’ve gone too deep in sub-genre.
So, which of the “big ones” do I use to classify my book?
Let’s start from the top. You’ve got either fiction or non-fiction. Easy, it’s fiction. Then, determining what genre of fiction should be just as simple, right? Wrong. First, you have to declare if it’s literary or genre fiction, if it’s focused on character or plot—and here I thought a good writer was supposed to focus on both. Picking genre because the plot does drive the action of the book, I then must decide what category of genre fiction it belongs in, but before I get to that, a different categorization system pops up in my research: speculative fiction. Yet nowhere is its antithesis of non-speculative fiction so, I toss that system out and press ahead with the common genre fiction sub-categories (henceforth called sub-genres).
Lo and behold, I have two options: fantasy or romance.
Fantasy is often set in a world different from the one we know with fantastic creatures and supernatural phenomenon. It’s different from the other sub-genres of science fiction and horror because of the lack of scientific or gruesome themes, respectively, though sometimes they do overlap. Fantasy’s make-believe, and something magical is always present either in the form of magical beings or in the setting itself. Some specific sub-categories of Fantasy are (now we’re into sub-sub-genres):
Contemporary fantasy – real world setting with magic or other supernatural features
Dark fantasy – has some aspects of horror
Fables – have unhuman characters and the plot gives a lesson
Fairy tale – uses fantastic creatures, often pits good versus evil, and can contain lessons
Heroic – the main point is a hero navigating through an imaginary setting
High – plot of an epic proportion
Historical – fantasy with historical elements
Low – simple plot with few fantasy elements
Paranormal romance – a romance formula with supernatural beings
Urban – setting in a city more than a land, plot with supernatural elements
Well, hell. Daughter of the South Wind fits into multiple categories: Contemporary, Fairy Tale, Heroic, High, Paranormal Romance. And I took Greek Mythology and gave obscure gods and goddesses their own stories, so where’s Mythology on this list?
A myth is based on a religion or belief system, usually of ancient origin. The stories tried to explain natural events through the lens of a religious belief and often used supernatural beings, gods, or creatures from that religious framework to do so. Many times, the plots contained a lesson or a moral. And many times, Fables, Folklore, Fairy Tales and Mythology get lumped into one giant sub-genre of Fantasy. Or is it sub-sub-genre? I’m so confused.
Given a love story is the central theme of my book, it also qualifies for the sub-genre of Romance—specifically a Paranormal Romance. Yup, the same one listed under Fantasy. Oh, what a tangled web.
How wonderful—my very first published work, and I cross all kinds of genre lines. Some say that’s good, what people want. Which is nice. But all I want is an easy way to categorize the book so it fits with people’s normal reading preferences—so I can get people to think it will be something they will like and maybe, just maybe, they’ll check it out, or better, buy it.
I guess I’ll just have to stick to a few major categories and use a genre/sub-genre/sub-sub-genre that I think will appeal to a person the most. And, based on their non-verbal reactions, if one classification doesn’t work, I have a few others to choose from: Romance, Speculative Fiction, Fantasy, Contemporary Fantasy, Fairy Tale, Heroic Fantasy, High Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Fantasy Romance.
Last, but not least, I can always call it what it is—Mythology!