A Cross-Genre Hybrid of a Novel

Background: Genre Fiction

Genre is a term applied to different kinds of literature that can be defined by their subject matter, form, or technique. According to A Handbook to Literature, 7th ed., by William Harmon & C. Hugh Holman (Prentice Hall, 1996):

Genre classification implies that there are groups of formal or technical characteristics among works of the same generic kind regardless of time or place of composition, author, or subject matter; and that these characteristics, when they define a particular group of works, are of basic significance in talking about literary art. (p. 231)

Genre fiction originated in dime novels — cheaply…


My main commitment for the 52-Week Writing Challenge was to write every week about the books I read. My focus has expanded from just writing reviews of individual books to also writing more general pieces about my personal relationship with books and reading. I have therefore recently been reading some articles on reading and writing about books.

(1) 38 Years on Books: The Essential Michiko Kakutani Reader

One of the biggest recent events among book people was the retirement of Michiko Kakutani, who had been the chief book critic of the New York Times for 38 years. She was a touchstone for both writers and readers. Her judgment could make…


Kubica, Mary. Every Last Lie
Harlequin Audio, © 2017
(print edition also © 2017)

I enjoyed Mary Kubica’s first three novels: The Good Girl (2014), Pretty Baby (2015), and Don’t You Cry (2016). Each features a twist at the end. But these twists aren’t simple plot tricks designed to shock readers. Rather, they demonstrate that life and people may not be what they appear to be, that there may be more to any story than we know because we are limited to what we can see.

In this novel we meet Clara Solberg holding her four-day-old infant son in her…


In its most basic meaning, setting in fiction refers to the time and place in which the action of a novel or short story occurs. In some works the setting isn’t much more than a few simple references to time and place in order to ground the work in reality. In other instances setting takes on more importance and plays a major role in how the work affects the reader.

For ease of explanation I’ve labeled some ways in which setting functions in the following fictional works. You may come up with other labels that you prefer. …


Grafton, Sue. Y is for Yesterday
Random House Audio, © 2017
(print edition also © 2017)

I’m always eager to read the newest installment of Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone series. However, this time my pleasure in digging into it was bittersweet. Y is, after all, the penultimate letter of the alphabet.

This time Kinsey is hired to look into a murder that occurred 10 years earlier. In 1979 four high school boys from an elite private school sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl and filmed the attack. Soon afterwards the tape vanished, and a female classmate, suspected of the theft, was killed…


Connelly, Michael. The Late Show
Hachette Audio, © 2017
ISBN 978–1–619–69430–9
(print book © 2017)

Recommended

Michael Connelly is one of my favorite authors. His two series characters are LAPD homicide detective Harry Bosch and criminal defense lawyer Mickey Haller, known as the Lincoln lawyer because he works primarily from the back seat of a chauffeur-driven black Lincoln.

In The Late Show Connelly introduces a new character, LAPD detective Renée Ballard. Ballard holds a degree in journalism from the University of Hawaii and worked as a reporter for the Los Angeles Times. But after a few years reporting on crime…


Crouch, Blake. Dark Matter
Crown, © 2016
ISBN 978–1–101–90422–0

Highly recommended

It’s the beautiful thing about youth.

There’s a weightlessness that permeates everything because no damning choices have been made, no paths committed to, and the road forking out ahead is pure, unlimited potential. (p. 10)

I don’t give out many five-star ratings, but this book certainly earned one. The first few pages aren’t exactly a suck-you-right-in opening, but as soon as the meat of the story began, I couldn’t put this book down.

I don’t read a lot of science fiction, but this novel does exactly what good science…


I had meant to write an assessment half way through the 52-Week Writing Challenge, which would have been at the end of June, but because I got several weeks behind, I’ve spent all of June and July plus the first week of August getting caught up. Now that I have finally published a half year’s worth of articles plus a few more, I can look honestly at that amount of work.

I should start by reflecting on the process of trying to write a bunch of past-due pieces. Normally I like to write a piece and let it sit at…


When I signed up for the 52-Week Writing Challenge at the end of December, I committed to writing book reviews. I also hoped to explore some other areas of personal writing as well, but the book reviews are what I can do most easily, so that’s what I chose.

For most of June and July I have been reading about writing personal essays though not writing any. I got about six weeks behind in the challenge during April and May, and I’ve spent most of the time since then trying frantically to catch up. With the publication of this piece…


Genre can be liberating, in an artistic sense. To follow and break the rules at the same time can lead to moments of true serendipity. For me, it has elevated the concept of form, the actual structure of the novel, to become the most crucial element, because as in architecture, form follows function. . . . In effect, the conventions of genre have opened up new vistas of form to explore, new ways of telling a story that demand much from me as an author.

— Lee Irby* in Genre as Liberation: On Learning to Manipulate Thriller Tropes

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Mary Daniels Brown

PhD in psychology; focus on life stories, psych of reading & writing, narrative; fiction & memoir reader & reviewer; professional writer & editor

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