Hear me out: There’s this great interview with Kazuo Ishiguro and Neil Gaiman making the rounds, so I’ll reproduce a part that was really interesting to me:
NG I loved the idea, because it seems to me that subject matter doesn’t determine genre. Genres only start existing when there’s enough of them to form a sort of critical mass in a bookshop, and even that can go away. A bookstore worker in America was telling me that he’d worked in Borders when they decided to get rid of their horror section, because people weren’t coming into it. So his job was to take the novels and decide which ones were going to go and live in Science Fiction and Fantasy and which ones were going to Thrillers.
KI Does that mean horror has disappeared as a genre?
NG It definitely faded away as a bookshop category, which then meant that a lot of people who had been making their living as horror writers had to decide what they were, because their sales were diminishing. In fact, a lot of novels that are currently being published as thrillers are books that probably would have been published as horror 20 years ago.
KI I don’t have a problem with marketing categories, but I don’t think they’re helpful to anybody apart from publishers and bookshops.
The rest of the interview can be read here.
I guess this is particularly of interest to me since I like writing ponderous stories with horrific elements, and I seem to be getting attention for my horror writing, not my fantasy work. A while ago one of my stories was shortlisted for a horror magazine, so if I get published my first appearance in print will be in the horror genre. I don’t think this is a bad thing, but I’v seen publishers give advice to new writers about the market: once you get published, stick with that genre. Your job as a writer is to build a fan-base and you can only do that if you stay consistent.
That seems narrow, but what do I know? More and more I see Horror/ Sci-Fi as a category and I’m not sure that’s fair.