Thursday, August 7, 2008
I was invited recently to write an article for a website specialising in books - with the slightly alarming name of "chicklit". Now any Stonewylde reader will know that these novels are most definitely NOT chicklit - or not what I understand that to be. However the editor assured me that the site caters for all tastes and interests (not that there's anything wrong with chicklit - it's just that I don't feel Stonewylde falls into that category at all). She asked me to write a piece for their Writing Tips pages about creating cross-over fiction.
If anyone's unsure what this means, it's basically novels that are of equal interest to adults and teens, to the extent that you couldn't really categorise it as one or the other. Stonewylde clearly does fall into this category, which is one of the reasons why it's been so hard to place in bookshops. Initially Waterstone's put Stonewylde in the Young Adult section, and although the series has now been officially re-classified as General Fiction, some branches still keep it on the shelves for the kids. There's nothing wrong with that, but do read the article I wrote to see why this is a bad marketing idea.
Cross-over fiction is a strange thing, made very prominent in recent years by such obvious books like Harry Potter, the Dark Materials trilogy, Holes and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night. In some ways, cross-over is a return to how it used to be when I was a teenager. I don't recall any fiction written specifically for my age-group. It was Enid Blyton and Swallows and Amazons and then whoosh - straight into Agatha Christie, Jane Eyre and the wonderful Victoria Holt novels. All of these were my mum's choices from the library and I devoured them all, feeling suddenly very grown-up indeed. Nowadays there are books written specifically for the teen market, dealing with issues and subjects particularly relevant to youngsters. But the cross-over novel bucks this trend and brings us back to a time when a good book could be read by teens and adults with equal enjoyment.
Where Stonewylde really becomes a marketer's and bookseller's square peg is that not only is the series completely cross-over, but it's enjoyed equally by men and women. The first man, other than my teenage sons, to read Stonewylde (in manuscript form) was the husband of a friend of mine. He was just about as macho as they come (a prison officer on Portland) and I was absolutely amazed when my friend said how much he loved the book. Since then I've had a great deal of mail from readers and much of it is from men. Some come to Stonewylde through their partners (many in frustration after wondering why they've been ignored for a damn book!) and it always makes me so pleased to think that the books don't just fall into a very narrow market but can be enjoyed by all sorts of people.
Do take a look at the article I wrote for Chicklit and let me know your views on this - click here
Posted by Kit Berry