A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
Imagine a world without ‘genre’. How would we explain what we like or don’t like? ‘Genre’ lets us put things into boxes and stick a label on them. Genre allows retailers to categorise their products so consumers know exactly where to find their next fix. We treat all kinds of things this way; books, films, music. We even use our genre preferences to define ourselves, and make assumptions about other people.
But genre isn’t always easy to pin down, and I sometimes find myself wondering what genre I write in. Which shelf should my books be displayed on? On-line, I describe myself as an author of ‘adventure stories for younger readers’, and yeah, yeah, I know that’s a bit general, but it’s about as accurate as I can make it. You see, I don’t write sci-fi, but sometimes there’s a hint of sci-fi in my books. After all, I’m a film fan who grew up in the 70’s and 80’s – the era that gave us Planet of the Apes, Buck Rogers, Battlestar Galactica, Logan’s Run, Alien, Escape from New York, The Thing, The Terminator, Star Wars, and many other much-loved influential sci-fi movies.
I don’t write horror either, but Stephen King was a constant companion during my formative years. His books inspired me. He inspired me. I wanted to be a writer like he was (is). And with the advent of VHS, how could I not be enthralled by original, fierce films like The Omen, The Exorcist, Halloween, Jaws, Friday 13th, Dawn of the Dead, Deep Red, and my all time favourite The Evil Dead? With such a rich back catalogue, how could I not be influenced? So, guess what? There’s sometimes a hint of horror in my stories.
And don’t get me started on WW2! Saturday afternoons at boarding school were dedicated to The Eagle Has Landed, Kelly’s Heroes, The Longest Day, and Where Eagles Dare. And afterwards, we spent hours in the playground, running around with stick machine-guns and bouncy-ball hand grenades. Unless, that is, we were re-enacting The Good the Bad and The Ugly, Josey Wales, or another fantastic western we had seen on TV.
Oh, and I grew up jungle trekking in Sumatra, and adventuring in Brazil as well as learning to survive with Indiana Jones, John J Rambo, and McGuyver. I had adventures with Max Rockatansky (and that car!), Chunk (and his truffle shuffle), Marty McFly, The A Team, and Han Solo.
Through those years, the books on my bedside were The Three Investigators, and Pan Horror Stories. I read Paul Gallico, Willard Price, Jack Higgins, Kurt Vonnegut, Ian Banks, Stephen King, Clive Barker, Elmore Leonard, William Golding, Cormac McCarthy . . .
So, if I’m going to be totally honest, I’d have to say that I write action-adventure-survival-horror-sci-fi-western-war-mystery stories. But we’ll call them ‘adventure’ stories for the sake of brevity.
What’s your genre?