Genre Friction

During the long years of writing, rewriting and submitting TimeStorm, a stumbling block with many of the publishers I approached was the genre label attached to the book. Or lack thereof. “What genre is it?” they would ask, implying that if I got the answer right, they would immediately sign me up.

How easy is that? I thought. The novel follows the crew and convicts aboard an eighteenth century British navy ship as they are transported to the present day via the book’s title. It’s clearly a… wait a minute!

The event driving the story is time travel, so it must be science fiction. But it’s not hard science fiction, as the time travel element is not explained scientifically. In which case, it must be fantasy. However, the time travel portion is very brief and, though important, the story is really a fish-out-of-water or strangers-in-a-strange-land tale and grounded in, I hope, gritty reality. It’s about the characters, with the main one being a seafaring officer in the Hornblower tradition, so it’s a seafaring adventure, even an old fashioned seafaring adventure. And there’s lots of action, so it must be an action adventure, too, or a violent action adventure, if truth be told. It’s a thriller, too. I’m glad I cleared that up.

But what about the historical aspect. TimeStorm is based on the 18th and 19th century British policy of transporting convicts to Australia, so it must be historical fiction or, more accurately, historical time slip fiction. Did I mention romance? That’s in there, too, so it’s an historical romance. Television news reporting is a key element in the story, so the book must also be current affairs. It does, after all, include political machinations. Political thriller sounds good. Don’t forget the police siege… Hornblower meets Die Hard.

The publishers were gone by this time, probably shaking their heads and thanking their lucky stars they didn’t have to market the novel to the public.

But finally, the wonderful Elsewhen Press came along and published TimeStorm, seeing the book for what it is, whatever that is. They weren’t daunted by the 4,356 genres included in the novel (I only mentioned a handful of them above) and instead let the story speak for itself.

Reviews have been universally very positive and readers often say, “I don’t usually read books like this.” Oh yes, you do,” I cry in reply. It’s because TimeStorm is a seafaring action adventure thriller, time slip, science fiction, fantasy, gritty political/police/ media drama and historical romance novel. Of course you read books like this! Or at least books like one of the above. I’m just making reading choices easy for you with a one-stop, multi-genre read.

By the way, I forgot to mention there is a healthy dose of humour, too. Perhaps the genre is actually Hysterical Romance…


  1. It’s a shame that some of the best sounding story ideas are the hardest to sell because they don’t fit the mold. Break the mold, dammit! Sounds like a great book.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Steve, I like your end of the post here … ‘Hysterical Romance’ lol. I’ve encountered this trouble with my middle-grade novel, too, and I’m unwilling to label it with too many genre tags because it sounds messy or that I tried too hard to put a bit of everything in the story. (But I didn’t! The story just turned out that way.)

    Liked by 1 person

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