The Pros and Cons of Cross Genre Fiction

August 28, 2017 | By | 2 Replies More

My author website makes a bold statement:

Isabella May is impossible to pigeonhole: From food to drink, magic to travel, and satire to jump-off-the-page characters, her books contain a little bit of EVERYTHING!”

Alas it is true…
I am the dreaded cross-genre author. Always have been, probably always will be. With one novel, ‘Oh! What a Pavlova’ about to launch in October, and another currently sitting on my publishers’ desk for perusal, I can pretty much guarantee my third book, which is already swirling around nicely in my head (and involves copious amounts of churros con chocolate), will be more of the same thing.

Because life – at least the way I see it – is not monochrome. Rather it’s a collage of subjects all blended into a movie reel projecting before us, and so are my stories. Whether or not this makes for neat, tidy reading is for the audience to decide, and ultimately this could be my downfall! But this is my voice and I really rather like being the kooky one who dares to shake it up a bit, to challenge the industry’s status quo. Why stick to the predictable script? And why stick to just one, or even two, genres?

My debut novel mixes satire with a serious subject…
Not to create Marmite Divide for Marmite Divide’s sake, but to portray the very real way in which domestic violence often plays out. Humour can be a very effective coping mechanism – in and out of the moment. I know because unfortunately I have been there.

Yet ‘Pavlova’ is also a story that’s as contemporary (well, okay, it’s set in the ‘naughties’) as it is romcom, as dark as it is spiritual, as all-things-cake (as the title would suggest), as it is travel. In short, there’s a lot going on. Some might say it’s a novel that’s ‘trying to do too much’. Indeed, this is one of the reasons a number of the bigger UK publishers rejected it: marketing… how do you even begin?

But does this have to be a disadvantage?
Ever the Positivity Guru, I choose not to see it that way, but as the novel’s unique selling point instead: It has the potential for widespread appeal. Life is multi-faceted, after all! And that’s why I wanted to give domestic violence as authentic a spotlight as possible. For this is not just an act that carries on in and of itself, rather, the many lives of the victim – and quite often this is a double, or even a triple life – don’t stop any more than the Earth could stop spinning; both, all, co-exist. Thankfully, indie publisher Crooked Cat Books ‘got it’ and had the vision to take my story on.

Writing about what you love is all-too-often overlooked.
And I’m not going to pretend that writing about the subjects that light you up (D.V to one side, but then again a story does need some conflict), will make you a best-seller. It probably won’t. This novel is no ‘Girl on the Train’, for sure. But it’s the way that I write. And it’s the way that more and more authors write. In fact, there are a whole crowd of us in The Cattery (aka. Crooked Cats’ author family), who straddle genres with our fiction. Perhaps we don’t have that ever sought after commercial appeal that is every movie producer’s dream – although, I can SO visualise Daniel Mays playing my Antagonist Daniel! But we do have something else to offer: a voice that’s clear as a bell. With the mass of ‘competition’ that is the celebrity author bandwagon/the debut author with the hefty Instagram following who’s several rungs up the ladder; this can be a very good thing. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that it’s only by writing for ourselves and not a perceived target audience, that we can better develop our niche, find our equally kooky tribe.

Refusing to conform can be a gamble…
But if I have done my job well, I have hopefully, through the inclusion of all of the very necessary jigsaw pieces that make up my story, lifted the veil on what I believe lies at the root of being a victim, whilst helping readers empathise with the perpetrator. There’s a chemical reaction going on between the two of them, and one cannot operate without the other, whether that makes for comfortable reading or not. Ultimately though, if just one person – woman or man – sees themselves in my protagonist, Kate Clothier, and is inspired to seek out a better life, then every word in this daring-to-do-it-differently-book will have been worth the blood, sweat and tears. That’s the best an author who has written from the heart can hope for!

Isabella May lives in (mostly) sunny Andalucia, Spain with her husband, daughter and son, creatively inspired by the sea and the mountains. When she isn’t having her cake and eating it, sampling a new cocktail on the beach, or ferrying her children to and from after school activities, she can usually be found writing.

As a Co-founder and a former contributing writer for the popular online women’s magazine, The Glass House Girls – – she has also been lucky enough to subject the digital world to her other favourite pastimes, travel, the Law of Attraction, and Prince (The Purple One).

She has recently become a Book Fairy, and is having lots of fun with her imaginative ‘drops’!

Oh! What a Pavlova is her debut novel… and her second novel has already been submitted to her publishers: watch this space…

Follow her on Twitter @IsabellaMayBks


Kate Clothier is leading a double life: a successful jet-setting businesswoman to the outside world, but behind closed doors, life with Daniel and his volcanic temper is anything but rosy.

Some days – heck, make that EVERY day – cake is her only salvation. 

Slowly but surely, the cities she visits – and the men she meets – help her to realise there IS a better future.

And the ley lines of Glastonbury are certainly doing their best to impart their mystical wisdom…

But will she escape before it’s too late?


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Category: On Writing

Comments (2)

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  1. Finding a genre category for my books is the hardest thing when pinned down to only one. My books encompass many, from Romance to International Crime to Historical Fiction. How do you choose only one? I believe that writing what one likes to read is best for me. Writing a story that is longer than an essay is hard enough. Writing something one is not comfortable or familiar with, would be daunting, to say the least. Thank you for posting this article, it gives me hope that I will one day be able to tick the box “Cross-Genre” when categorizing my books.

  2. I LOVE cross genre fiction. Life doesn’t fit neatly into one genre, so why should a book? I still believe in the write what you want to read mantra, despite how hard it can be to market. Best of luck to you with your debut–I’ll keep my eyes open for it!

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