In 2009, the term “mashup” came into being. Mashup simply defined means taking two or more different genres and mixing them up. For instance, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, both by Seth Grahame-Smith, are good examples of mashup novels that take either historical figures or classic literature and combine them with horror. This form of hybrid work brings up intriguing questions regarding the future of fiction. Is this form of cross genre a good thing or is it merely pop culture at its worst? Short story writers have been combining genres for many years. Thus, the “speculative” fiction label often combines science fiction, fantasy and horror with mystery, romance, historical and even literary elements. So this is not new.
However, reviewers as well as readers are often confused when authors move away from pigeon-holed tried and true formulas for genre novels and experiment. Charlaine Harris, for example, tossed aside the usual rules of mystery writing and simply wrote what she really wanted to create--the secret to her superstar success. She wasn’t afraid to be different in style and subject and actually have fun with her writing. “Old school” mystery reviewers and writers frown on using paranormal elements. They consider it a kind of cheating. Charlaine didn’t worry about that. The results speak for themselves.
Kim Reynolds, my psychic detective in four mystery novels, tries her best to repress this ability but it keeps showing up and helping her uncover murderers. My mystery series is also strong on romance which is another no-no in old school mystery circles. But I look at novel writing as a dynamic, growing literary form. So I’ve been somewhat daring with it. This is also true in my romance novels as well. My heroes, for example, in my historic romances THE CHEVALIER and TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS are not paragons of virtue. They’re alpha males, strongly masculine but decidedly flawed. In my short fiction I often mix genres and write a combination of elements. In my recently published YA novel, THE DEVIL AND DANNA WEBSTER, I combine paranormal elements with everyday teen life, mixing reality and fantasy. In TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS, elements of the supernatural are combined with Regency romance, historic elements and people of those times.
In the 18th century, many authors experimented with novel writing, considering it a dynamic form of written expression. The writers weren’t afraid to be original or different. They created unique novels with unforgettable characters such as: CLARISSA, TOM JONES, ROBINSON CRUSOE, GULLIVER, JOSEPH ANDREWS, PAMELA, MOLL FLANDERS and my favorite, TRISTRAM SHANDY. There was diversity in character, style and plot type which inspired subsequent generations who followed. The mashup novel is yet another experiment with the novel form. Will this manifestation last? To my mind, that is not the significant question. Will the novel survive as a literary form? I think the answer is emphatically yes because it is an art form that allows for change and constant evolution.
Do you take chances as a reader or a writer? Will you read or write books or short stories that do not follow standard genre formula plotting and characterization?
To celebrate Mother’s Day, I’m giving away a review print copy of my mystery thriller THE BAD WIFE to someone who comments. If interested, leave an e-mail address along with your comment.