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Date Night: Blurring the Lines in Genre?

Author R. C. Matthews released a book this week, DATE NIGHT. It's been described as a cross between Chicklit and Contemporary and we asked her why?

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Please welcome R. C. Matthews here to answer our question...

DATE NIGHT: Blurring the Lines in Genre?

When I first decided to write Date Night, I knew it would be in the “Romance” genre. And although I’ve been an avid reader all my life, I didn’t really appreciate the extent of “sub-genres” or “niches” within each genre. Sure I knew the difference between contemporary, erotica, historical and suspense romance novels. But what the heck was “steampunk” and “new adult” or “space opera”? The more I researched, the more I realized I had no clue what publishers were looking for in each genre. And I found it rather frustrating that the story I wanted to tell in Date Night didn’t fit neatly into any one genre or niche.

Aren’t we supposed to be creative and color outside the lines as artists? Why in the heck do we box ourselves into these narrowly defined categories?

So I simply said: screw it! I had a story to tell and I decided to tell it the way I wanted to tell it. Date Night is a blend of chick literature, contemporary romance and new adult. The story doesn’t fit neatly into any one of the three categories.

-          Chick literature: The relationship between the heroine, Jordan, and her grandmother lends the story a distinct “chick lit” feel to it. Grannie is a central character in Date Night and I hate to relegate her to the category of “secondary character”. There is even a section of the book told from Grannie’s third person point of view. I once read that true “romance novels” should not allow the hero and heroine to be separated for long periods of time and while secondary characters are welcome, they should not steal the show. In the case of Date Night, I guarantee you will walk away loving Grannie every bit as much as you love Jordan and JT. Does she steal the show sometimes? I’ll let you decide.

 

-          Contemporary romance: But at the heart of Date Night is also a beautiful and satisfying love story between Jordan (22 years old) and the hero, JT (24 years old). I admit I used the age old “little sister and big brother’s best friend” troupe, but I hope you’ll agree my angle was fresh because there was no long-standing crush. Jordan and JT fall in love over the course of the book through shared experiences that make them look at each other in a new light. Despite the fact that love and romance are central to the story line, neither the hero nor heroine has entered their full-time careers yet and Jordan still lives with her mother. So the couple is a little young for the typical contemporary romance novel. Many contemporary romance novels today tackle marriage, babies and juggling full-time careers.

 

-          New adult: And although their ages fall neatly into the new adult genre (18-25 years old) and the story is told from the first person – alternating point of view so commonly found in new adult books, the main story line doesn’t center on the craziness and drama associated with college life, exploring sex and drugs, or starting a new career.

Ugh! Where did that leave me when I wanted to market Date Night to a publisher? Between a rock and a hard place. In my experience and through my research, I couldn’t find many publishers that actually encouraged authors to blur the lines between genres. Luckily for me, I had a day job that helped pay the bills so I had the luxury of not caring whether or not I blurred the lines between genres and I could take the chance on self-publishing my book.

So where did that leave me, I ask again? With a beautifully unique story worth telling! And I hope you’ll agree it is worth reading as well.
Please share your experiences.

Just look at this cover of Date Night!





Ever since Jordan Billette’s father, Jeremy, died unexpectedly when she was eight years old, Jordan and her paternal grandmother (‘Grannie’) have shared a special bond by creating a tribute to Jeremy: a scrapbook that documents the important milestone of Jordan’s life from her first report card with letter grades, to her first kiss, to graduating from college.

Upon graduating from college, only one significant milestone remains; her wedding day. When Grannie is diagnosed with aggressive cancer, she makes one dying wish to Jordan. Grannie wants to watch Jordan walk down the aisle. Not engaged? Not even dating? No problem. Grannie has a plan. She signs Jordan up for a dating service—dinner dates twice per week will surely turn up a soul mate!

JT Murphy has been best friends with Jordan’s older brother Jared since they were in diapers. Grannie wisely insists Jordan meet her dates at the restaurant where JT waits tables because she needs protection from unworthy jerks. JT is more than happy to help; Jordan is like a sister to him. So why does her smile light up his evening whenever he sees her and why is he noticing that she has curves in all the right places? As the wedding draws near…JT wonders if it’s his heart that needs protecting…from the pain of potentially losing Jordan forever.

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26 comments:

  1. Yay for indie! LOL
    Best of luck. :)

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    1. Thank you! I need all the luck I can get.

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  2. I've always enjoyed stories that blur those lines - I love colouring outside the lines too :)

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    1. Me too - a great story is great even if I can't exactly describe what section of the bookstore it belongs in.

      I used to paint when I was younger and had more time on my hands..outside the lines...mixing colors...it's all good.

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  3. Good for you for writing the book your way. I'm in full agreement. It kills creativity to try to fit stories into neat little boxes, especially when the boxes are labeled with things like "steampunk." WTH?!

    Much success with Date Night. It looks and sounds sizzling.

    xoRobyn

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    1. Thank you Robyn! When I started researching about romance publishers I was also shocked at how prescriptive many of them were on the word count for their books. It doesn't get more cookie cutter than that.

      If you decide to check out Date Night, drop me a line and let me know what you thought at rc_matthews@yahoo.com. I love to hear feedback so I can improve on my writing.

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  4. I'm impressed you knew it wasn't NA and didn't try to market that way. I've seen too many authors claim their book is NA, just because that is what is currently hot.

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  5. I'll admit to took me a while to realize it wasn't NA. When Date Night was rejected by Carina Press I started looking for more articles on what makes a story NA. And it became clear that my book was not NA. Crimson Romance - who currently publishes my book Little White Lies - didn't want Date Night either because the characters were too young for their contemporary romance line and not facing the challenges of family, children and career.

    My book is definitely unique and difficult to describe. But I love it none-the-less. :-)

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  6. Awww poor JT!! Oh dear! Hope he finds the courage to sweep Jordan off her feet!! And make Grannie happy! Yay!!

    Lovely to meet you RC Matthews - good for you for blurring these genre lines! All the best! Take care
    x

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    1. I love the kitty profile picture. In the second book of the series, Leah has a cat :-). I'm more of a dog person, but Leah needed snuggling and love so I envisioned a cat more for that job.

      I'm a sucker for HEA - I promise you'll never find truly horrible or violent things happening to my characters. So everyone will get their HEA.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  7. WOW, I so completely agree with the 'color outside the lines' comment by the author!! It is immensely frustrating, both in reading and writing to be pigeon-holed. Sure, I like romance and PNR. I also like horror, sci-fi, fantasy, literary and tons more. And my writing is influenced by and reflects all of that.

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    1. I know, right? I'm writing a fantasy book for my 12 year old son and took inspiration from the board game, Talisman, that we love to play. My husband was angry because I gave the sorceress the ability to morph into a dragon - which wasn't following the rules. He said, "Honey, a sorceress can't change into a dragon." I said, "Honey, dragons and sorceress don't exist in real life so I can make them do anything I darn well please!" Who wants the same-old, same-old all the time?

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  8. Amazing cover.

    I had a hard time describing my work to someone the other day. I also blur the lines.

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    1. Melody Simmons of eBookindiecovers designed it. I absolutely love her work. She also designed the sequel Fair Game. It too is fabulous. Keep blurring the lines. It makes for interesting stories.

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  9. I know many successful romance novelists who decided to self-publish for that very reason--they wanted to write something that didn't neatly fit into one of the niches that exist. It is tough to think outside the lines when there are so many restrictions in the industry!

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    1. It is also scary and daunting to self-publish. When I started Date Night I too was trying to fit it into one of the boxes. But it just wasn't working. So I stopped worrying about who would want it and wrote it the way it was meant to be. I'm so happy I did. I figure if it is good, then it will stand on its own and word of mouth will spread. I guess time will tell.

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  10. I usually love it when genres blend. Good for you to go forward with your original idea.

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    1. Thank you! It definitely makes the story unique and fun.

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  11. Looks like the start of a great series.

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    1. Funny thing is that I never intended for this to be a series. However, after a few "test readers" suggested they loved Jordan's brother Jared and wanted him to have his own story, I wrote Leah into the book. Then my niece wanted her own book too so I wrote the cousin "Tyler" into the story. Now I'm looking at a three book series plus writing a short story about Grannie and her meddling ways.

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  12. I've seen her cover a couple times already, and I love it!

    Genre mash-ups make the writing world go round. I get so bored with the expected trope...or maybe I just read enough that I'm pickier? *shrugs*

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    1. I agree. In fact, I think I'm venturing into new territory with this series. In book 2 - Fair Game - four of the scenes are taken from Date Night but written from the perspective of Jared and Leah. Technically their love story is happening concurrently with Date Night. I've never seen this done in other series. Maybe it has been done but I haven't stumbled on a series like that. It was so much fun to write the exact same scene but from another couple's perspective. Everyone thinks they know what Leah and Jared are thinking and feeling, but in reality they are way off base! Fun stuff. :-)

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  13. The best books bust through genre borders to tell a unique story. Good work and good luck!

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    1. Thank you Mickey. So far so good on the reviewer feedback.

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  14. I find New Adult very difficult to categorize. But I totally relate to contemporary romance and women's fiction.

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    1. I've read some reviews for New Adult books recently and I'm afraid I probably wouldn't care for them very much - too much heavy drama for me. Maybe I'm just getting old. But that is the wonderful thing about books - there are so many of them out there that everyone can find something they love. To each his own. I am personally a die-hard historical romance fan. I can't resist historical. I don't know why. And yet I write contemporary romance. Go figure!

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