I write genre. Why do I say this: because I write urban fantasy and horror. Thus, I’ve accepted that label… but am I right?
See, technically I think all fiction creates an alternate universe, no matter if it’s ‘realistic’ literary fiction, or SciFi, or urban fantasy, or whatever. However, at university literary fiction is not considered to be a genre and weirdly magical realism and speculative fiction are not really considered genre either… so when Margret Atwood penned ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ it is not considered to be science fiction by the literary community but the more acceptable speculative fiction. This is despite the fact that ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ won Arthur C. Clark science fiction award as well as being nominated for two other prestigious ‘genre’ awards. I guess winning the Governor Generals Award (which is for literature) and being nominated for the Booker Prize means that it can’t be a lowly science fiction dystopia novel but something more special.
I do kind of get it… poorly written literary fiction gets ignored where as poorly written science fiction, fantasy, etc. can get a fan following of millions and spawn TV and movie franchises… not exactly fair.
The problem is, and I think where judgement starts to enter the argument, well-written literary fiction can be equally ignored. Why? Who truly knows. I mean Stephen King was unknown at one point in his life, what has made him so popular? But is it right to accuse me of having ‘lower standards’ because I prefer to read something that will scare the crap out of me or whisk me off to world with magic?
The answer is no. All books have value, whether I like them or not, and the only reason I think labels should be given is so I’m able find what I want to read easier. If that makes me a lowly genre writer/reader then I will wear that badge with pride.