Sunday, September 25, 2016

What Genre?

Silent Autumn is a finalist in the Royal Palm Literary Awards competition of the Florida Writers Association in the category of Science Fiction.

I had a lot of fun writing this futurist novel about a young couple who escape the highly controlled post-apocalyptic society to find their way in a seriously population depleted former United States. Their goal is to warn The West, where all the food is grown and processed, about plans for The North East to destroy their leadership and take over their country and it millions of slaves.

They come across several different societal structures along the way, including autocratic, democratic, socialist, and a dictatorship.

The country (called The North) they left controlled emotions and behavior with medicated food. The government monitored all education, forbade mixing of sexes to avoid inadvertent births and proscribed artificial insemination of females starting at age fifteen. Once a female produced two healthy offspring, she attended an occupational training program. Entertainment was provided for everyone.

When entering the contest, I pondered the categories. Someone called it “literary science-fiction,” another said, “dystopian,” yet another said “romance.” I asked around and narrowed the choices down to dystopian and science fiction. I accepted those two definitions for a while, but something bothered me about dystopian, so I looked it up.

"Utopian describes a society that's conceived to be perfect. Dystopian is the exact opposite — it describes an imaginary society that is as dehumanizing and as unpleasant as possible.

That definition did not match any of my societies. One came close, but not quite. Next, I checked on science fiction: “Literary fantasy involving the imagined impact of science on society.” Not quite exact either, but one of the five-star reviewers used the term, “literary science-fiction,” so I went with that.


This question comes up frequently in my writing. My first published novel, The Prince of Keegan Bay, was a first place winner in the Humor category at the RPLA, but is listed under Thriller with my publisher. I refer to it as a humorous thriller. It is now the first in a series of novels under the heading of Cozies.


Do you run into stumbling blocks when it comes to putting your books in categories or genres? Where would your writing fit in a bookstore?

Veronica Helen Hart has won awards for three of her novels, all of which she had questions about how to categorize them. Her other novels, two of which are still awaiting results of competitions, gave her the same headache. Only The Reluctant Daughters was easy: Historical Fiction. Follow her on Facebook as Veronica Helen Hart and Uppity Woman Press.