A. I write cross-genre fiction.
Q. What’s that?
A. That’s the genre that agents and editors tell you they can’t place on the bookshelf when they reject you. Bookstores can’t find a place for your book either.
Q. So, do you write either mystery, suspense, or thrillers?
A. Yes, all three, sometimes in one book, but there’s also romance.
Q. Then it’s romantic suspense?
A. Not really.
Q. Why not?
A. Because I don’t follow the romantic-suspense formula. Sometimes the romances in my books don’t have a HEA, Happy Ever After. Romance Writers of America classifies Romantic Suspense this way: The love story is the main focus of the novel, a suspense/mystery/thriller plot is blended with the love story, and the resolution of the romance is emotionally satisfying and optimistic. Though my books have a romance, crime is the focus of the story. RWA has tempered their former explanation of a definite HEA to an ending that is emotionally satisfying and optimistic. That leaves some room for H/h (Hero/heroine—notice the female H is in small letters. I take umbrage.) to maybe get together, maybe not, but probably. My book Hooked has that kind of ending.
Q. So, Hooked is a romance with a satisfying and optimistic ending?
A. I thought so, but some reviewers did not find the ending at all satisfying. They wanted to know what happened after the last page. Oh, and there’s humor in this one too.
Q. So it’s a Romantic Comedy?
A. Oh, no. There’s humor but there are a few murders, so it really isn’t funny. Just humorous in parts.
Q. So how do you characterize your work?
A. Broadly? Suspense with a hint of romance.
Q. And humor.
A. Sometimes. My last book, Backlash, is very serious. Even though the two main characters are a couple, there’s no hot romance in this one. But there are romantic elements.
Q. Sigh. I’m thoroughly confused. Maybe you should create a new genre to satisfy everyone.
A. Oh, that’s impossible. A writer will never satisfy everyone. I’ve had readers think I tell the best stories ever and others who think I should learn how to write. Agents, on the other hand, are only satisfied if the book meets the current genre in vogue, and writers better be fast because that changes as often as women change shoes. Agents can’t pitch a novel and call it Crime Fiction with Romance and Humor, now, can they? Editors of large publishing houses already have the books filtered first by agents, so they don’t see all of what’s out there, but they want to be on the cutting edge as well. Publishers want to be able to pitch the book to the bookstores, and bookstores have to know where to put the book in the store. What it comes down to is some writers have to put up with an unimaginative bunch in order to get published.
Think back to J.K. Rowling, who had a hell of a time getting any publisher to read Harry Potter. Then, when it became a huge success, agents, editors, and publishers all wanted wizard books. Then it changed again to vampires, and that changed to--you get the picture. Exhausting, isn’t it?
Q. How do you do it then?
A. I self-publish.
Q. What does that mean?
A. I can do anything I damn well please and hope readers find me and like what I write.
Polly Iyer is the author of seven novels: standalones Hooked, InSight, Murder Déjà Vu, Threads, and three books in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series, Mind Games, Goddess of the Moon, and Backlash. A Massachusetts native, she makes her home in the beautiful Piedmont region of South Carolina. You can visit her website for more on Polly and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.