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Genre Labeling by Johnny Worthen

BEATRYSEL started out as a love story. Not a romance, but love was and is central. Then it slid into a mystery, thriller and horror. Along the way it slipped through instructional manual, philosophical treaties, morality play, weather report and cook book. So what is it and why does it matter what it is?

It is an occult thriller. My publisher said so.

Labeling art is always problematic. The impressionist masters hated the label, at least some of them. I didn’t talk to everyone. There’s a reason to resist labeling. It pigeon holes an artist and compares them immediately to everyone else so labelled whether accurately or not. If your “historical fiction” is labelled a romance because you have a strong leads, you might suddenly lose fans who think “romance” is cheap and tawdry. If your “coming of age story” has a ghost in it, you’re suddenly “paranormal young adult” and bunched with authors you might not respect. Your “literary fiction” masterpiece destined for a pulitzer is called “science fiction” because it is the end of the world, and the boy will have to go on without his father.

But that’s the author’s burden and must be bourn.

I have to think of it like a tapestry viewed from a distance. Up close there are threads of yellow and red, orange and white, silver and gold. These lie against a pallet of umbers and greens, blacks and grays. But seen from a distance, a single color will emerge and that must be ultimately the first filter. All together my book, as a whole with distance shows itself to be a horror, or more delicately, an “occult thriller.”

But it is more.

The truth is that labeling and specifically genre labeling is a necessary evil. It is the first filter to finding an audience. As an author, what’s important to remember is that your book is never accurately described by any single label and every smart reader knows this. Not even if your book is a single word long can it be summed up in a single word, as strange as that sounds.

People seek out themes and situations they know and like, but by picking up a new book they are asking for variation and new beats. It is an exploration into diversity and new insight.

Yes, BEATRYSEL might be called a horror by some and people may pick it up for a good fright. They’ll get it, but they’ll also see love and loyalty, pride and hubris. Others, hearing about the occultism in the book, may be curious to see how modern magickal philosophy is treated seriously in a work of fiction but then come away with a personal longing for new friends.

The danger of course is that people who might otherwise be thrilled with my book, its turns and terrors, emotions and hungers will not pick it up if its on the wrong bookshelf.

There’s nothing for it, Mr. Frodo.

I can only hope it will transcend its label and cross the bookshelves. It’s all any writer can do.

BEATRYSEL from Omnium Gatherum. September 12th 2013.
“There is no light without darkness, no love without jealousy.”

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WEB: http://www.johnnyworthen.com/

Blog: http://www.johnnyworthen.blogspot.com/

Twitter: @JohnnyWorthen

FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/JohnnyWorthenBooks

Publisher: http://omniumgatherumbooks.com/beatrysel

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Jay Wilburn
Jay Wilburn has a Masters Degree in Education that goes mostly unused since he quit teaching to write about zombies. Jay writes horror because he tends to find the light by facing down the darkness. He finds the journey through life easier by having you join him. Jay is the author of 2 series: The Dead Song Legend and The Great Interruption. He cowrote The Enemy Held Near with Armand Rosamilia. You can also find Jay's work in Best Horror of the Year volume 5 and Dark Moon Digest. Each year Jay has the pleasure of featuring many great authors in the genre through the Summer and Winter of Zombie blog tours on his website.

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