The Pitfalls of Writing Cross Genre

THE WORLD OF KAROV - New Adult Dark Fantasy series

THE WORLD OF KAROV – New Adult Dark Fantasy series

Someone once told me that I “published wrong.” The first book I ever published was a young adult tale called FLYING TO THE LIGHT about a deaf boy who knows about the afterlife and now people are after him. The second book I published was a fantasy novel, more New Adult in target, the third was the sequel to FLYING TO THE LIGHT, called FLYING TO THE FIRE and the 4th was the sequel to the dark fantasy book.

So, what does that mean? I’m a YA novelist, right? Well, no. I actually define myself as an adult thriller/horror writer, if asked. Those YA books I had mostly written years ago and had the opportunity to publish them first. Since then, the books that I’ve put out are all adult thrillers or horror.

There’s the Kelsey Porter series which are sexy buddhist thrillers, and two horror novels. The pitfalls of writing cross genre is that some of my YA fans have picked up the thrillers and been… well… surprised. The YA books were very clean… albeit a bit violent as I tend to write that way, but they weren’t adult books. As a result, I’ve had to caveat to a lot of people whether or not their children can read any of my other books. Usually I tell them “no.” Not that it’s erotica – it’s not at all, and not that they’re dirty, they’re not, but they have adult themes and are just not what I’d picture a kid could read.

That said, my daughter read my horror novels just fine at the age of thirteen and my fourteen year old son wishes to read THE HUNT FOR XANADU. I think he’s two years too young, but he’s adamant so we discuss it chapter by chapter. Books #2 and #3 in the series are “more tame” to be honest. But there’s a reason I set up Book #1 the way I did. You’d have to read it to find out or it would be a huge spoiler.

FLYING - Young Adult Series

FLYING – Young Adult Series

I find I’m getting mostly fans now with my adult books, but then these same people will go back to read my YA books and I wonder if they get confused or upset? They are all so different and you wonder if the pitfalls of writing cross genre means you confuse your readers if they wish to read other works by you, thinking they’ll be similar. That said, I would just advise authors to make sure you’re very clear in the book blurbs what the books are about and what genre it is so there are no surprises.

On my webpage at I have headers for all the genres, and hope that makes it more clear for people.

Kelsey Porter thriller series

Kelsey Porter thriller series

As to the “publishing wrong” comments? Well, not much I can do about that. I write what I write, when I write it. It’s how my brain works. But I don’t think the cross genre is a bad thing. I actually write in one genre, but across different age groups. All my books have a fantastical element to them. In the FLYING SERIES it was the young boy who knew about the afterlife, in the NA WORLD OF KAROV Dark Fantasy Series, it was an evil spreading across the universe, in the KELSEY PORTER series, they’re adult Buddhist Spiritual Mysteries. I was just lucky enough that a publishing house picked one of them up and it just morphed from there. When you have an arsenal of books in your library waiting to get out to the world, do you just let them sit there because you want to be a specialist in one genre or the other, or do you let them be free? I decided to publish them all and let the chips fall as they may.

Horror Novel - "I beg of you... stay away..."

Horror Novel – “I beg of you… stay away…”

A collection of creepy horror tales...

A collection of creepy horror tales…

Anyone else write cross genre? Do you as a reader find it confusing when an author mixes things up in this fashion or do you like it? Love to hear.

If you’d like to check out all the novels, here’s my amazon author page:

11 thoughts on “The Pitfalls of Writing Cross Genre

  1. As a reader, I tend to ignore age-guidelines on books anyway. Always have. When I was younger I was reading things both too old and too young for me – Enid Blytons alongside classics, for example. And it never bothered me when an author’s works were vastly different – Georgette Heyer’s between-war crime novels compared to her historical romances. Loved ’em both. To be honest, the author’s not necessarily the first thing that draws my attention to a book. Is it interesting? Well-written? Oh, it’s by So-and-so? Give it a go.

    • That’s great to hear. I always worry at times. I had someone read all the YA stuff and then went ahead and read the adult thrillers and were shocked. The great news is they liked it a lot and then went right to the second book in the series, but they didn’t realize I wrote anything other than YA. Thank you so much for commenting.

  2. Rita Mae Brown writes heartwarming novels that have adorable animals as a central part of the story. She also writes rather bawdy books. For my reading tastes, I know to only read the ones with animal names in the title. I wonder if it would be worthwhile to change your YA books to a pen name but let it be known in your bio that you also write adult themed books as Elyse Salpeter. That way YA readers would not find your adult books as easily.

  3. As a reader, my selections are eclectic and therefore I don’t attempt to pigeonhole any writer. As a writer, like you, I write what strikes me. I like to say I write fantasy, SF and horror, but I also delve into adventure, romance, YA and Christian which I’m sure will shock those particular readers. I’m re-doing my website to categorize my novels into general groups but I do tend to cross-over genres with blended tales. I guess the caveat is: Reader beware!!

  4. Surely it shows you as an able writer to be able to write in different genres? You may encourage readers to read a new genre themselves because they like your work and open up a whole new world of reading to them. Bravo and keep on writing.

    • Thank you – I definitely think as a writer it’s fine, but for fans it might be tough. I had someone just race through my adult thriller series and now picked up my YA book. It’s going to be a totally different read and I hope she enjoys it though. A little nervous! Thank you so much for reading!

  5. I also write in several genres. My first published story was for children, then I wrote and published The Bones of the Earth, a historical fantasy with some adult themes. My latest books have been action-detective types, interspersed with two historical memoirs in novel form.

    But I want to take issue with calling sex “dirty,” and with the idea that anyone under age 16 should not read about sex. Let’s face it, kids today are exposed to the idea that people have sex, at all ages. Just look at the headlines on magazines at the grocery store checkout. And, if a child reads a scene that describes, without necessarily being graphic, two people having sex, what’s the damage? I think this distinction between “clean” and “dirty” is more damaging long-term to our whole society.

    • I think I have to agree with you – I think it’s more “embarrassment on my part.” I find that if I write a scene, people expect ME to be sort of like that when it’s really the character’s story arc. Just something I personally need to get past.

  6. I’ve ventured outside my sailing-related genre a time or two, but the books haven’t sold well. My first book was not about sailing, but it did introduce a couple of characters who appear in my sailing series, so readers go back and pick it up. The other odd book I wrote was a psycho thriller, and it hasn’t sold well at all. The lesson I learned was to stick to what my fans want to read. So far, I’ve restrained myself from trying to establish a following outside my main genre.

  7. I write cross genre novels because I also read cross genre. My mystery novels are clearly mysteries, but I tend to infuse mystery into the sci-fantasy as well. My “Alphas” novel starts out as a mystery and morphs into sci-fantasy, hopefully making my mystery readers curious enough to pick up the sci-fantasy series. I sell more mysteries but my real love is in the sci-fantasy realm.

  8. I agree with what others have said about their own eclectic reading tastes. I usually have three or four books going at once and they are usually all different genres. I know a lot of writers who write cross-genre use pen names that are variations of their real name. It’s a conundrum, though, because you want to be easily accessible to any fans you already have.

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