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Reader's Advisory Training: Genres

Resources

Genre Basics

Characteristics

  • Fast-paced
  • Plot driven
  • Heroic, likeable characters with their own moral codes
  • Few plot twists
  • No uncertainty about the outcome – justice prevails
  • Daring physical action
  • Characters often stereotypical

Appeal

  • Common military settings appeal to veterans
  • Larger-than-life quality
  • Often high violence – may or may not be appealing
  • Quick, satisfying reads
  • Exotic locales

What about the fans?

  • Traditionally geared towards male readers
  • Readers expect certain characteristics: hero on a mission, detailed exotic settings, danger/action, and ultimate success of the mission
  • May appreciate over-the-top nature of Adventure novels
  • Often read for details (historical, military, cultural, etc.)
  • Some people may be turned off by violence or by portrayal of women

RA Interview Tips

  • If readers have a hard time talking about books they enjoyed, ask about movies
  • Maps often indicate Adventure elements, or provide clues to story line, historical details, etc.
  • Don’t forget about Adventure classics – Alexandre Dumas, Robert Louis Stevenson, CS Forester, etc.
  • Genre often geared towards male readers, but women read Adventure too!
  • Other genres to try: Science Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romantic Suspense (generally more for female fans), Thrillers, True Adventure, Westerns

Subgenres

  • Historical military
  • Contemporary military
  • Western
  • Globetrotter
  • Spy/Espionage
  • Disaster

Top Authors

  • Steve Berry
  • Dale Brown
  • Clive Cussler
  • Bernard Cornwell
  • WEB Griffin
  • Patrick O’Brien
  • Matthew Reilly
  • James Rollins

Characteristics

  • Presence of mythical creatures and/or magic
  • Conflicts between good & evil
  • Characters clearly defined as good or bad
  • Plots often center around quests
  • Often stems from mythological characters & stories
  • Frame & setting create the fantasy world
  • May take place in urban setting
  • Slower pace as fantasy world is described; faster pace as the adventures become dangerous
  • Often large books & series-based

Appeal

  • Richly described fantasy worlds
  • Character transformations, both literal & figurative
  • Emotional strengths
  • Often element of romance
  • Speak to interest in myths & magic

What about the fans?

  • Adult & teen readers – often crossover between the two age groups
  • More female fantasy readers, although males are often attracted to adventure fantasy
  • Tend to be series-oriented and often want to read series in order.  Not turned off by large books
  • May enjoy certain Fantasy “universes,” which may be written by multiple authors (eg. Halo series)
  • Very knowledgeable – librarians should take advantage of this!

RA Interview Tips

  • Focus heavily on appeal factors & how reader describes their favorite books, especially if you’re not familiar with the genre
  • For readers new to genre, good to ask genre-specific questions: How much overt magic would be interesting?  Do they want fairy tales, Arthurian legends, dark Fantasy, etc.?
  • Humorous Fantasy often identified by titles w/ puns.
  • Don’t forget about classics – Fantasy ages well. 
  • Can usually suggest adult fantasy to teens & younger fantasy to Adults
  • Other genres to try: Science Fiction, Paranormal Romance, Horror, Adventure, Literary Fiction with Magical Realism

Subgenres

  • Arthurian
  • Epic (formal language, complex characters/races, multi-volume series)
  • Fairy tales
  • Historical (familiar time & place with fantastical elements)
  • Magic & Mages
  • Not-quite-horror (horror characters integrated into a non-horror plot)
  • Urban fantasy (Magic/mythological creatures in urban setting)

Top Authors

  • Kelley Armstrong
  • Marian Zimmer Bradley
  • Jim Butcher
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Laurell K. Hamilton
  • George R.R. Martin
  • Terry Pratchett
  • JRR Tolkien

Characteristics

  • Found across genres except horror & thriller
  • Focus on relationships & characters
  • Slower pace
  • Response to difficult situations/problems is upbeat & positive
  • Sex/violence may be hinted at, but not explicit
  • Cozy mysteries especially popular

Appeal

  • Often what people are looking for when they ask for a “good story”
  • Satisfying, often happy ending
  • Series allow readers to become familiar with the characters
  • Suitable for large age range

What about the fans?

  • Suitable stories for young adults & older readers
  • Popular with people who are uncomfortable with today’s portrayal of sex, violence, and language
  • Not all readers choose Gentle Reads exclusively
  • Good number of readers also read Inspirational/Christian fiction

RA Interview Tips

  • Listen for key phrases such as “upbeat,” “timeless,” “old-fashioned stories,” “heartwarming,” etc.
  • Can suggest Gentle Reads to readers, even if they don’t explicitly mention a preference for the genre. 
  • If reader wants a guarantee that there’s nothing offensive in the book, remind them that everyone has their own standards, so it’ & if they find something offensive, they can always bring the book back
  • Not a typical genre – good to keep a running list of authors/titles that work for our readers, or single titles that fall within Gentle Reads guidelines
  • Other genres to try: Romance, Cozy Mysteries, Historical Fiction, Inspirational Fiction, Women’s Fiction

Subgenres

  • Found across most popular genres, especially Romance, Mystery, Historical Fiction, and Inspirational fiction

Top Authors

  • Rita Mae Brown
  • Fannie Flagg
  • Jan Karon
  • Debbie Macomber
  • Alexander McCall Smith
  • Nicholas Sparks

Characteristics

  • Focus on research & historical accuracy
  • Longer books
  • Slower pace
  • Often take place over longer time period
  • Can range in tone from romantic to realistic to gritty
  • Take readers back to a particular time & place

Appeal

  • Provides insights into people or events of the past
  • More entertaining that dry facts
  • Details & slow pacing allows readers to submerge themselves in the story
  • Draw parallels to current events
  • Female characters are often strong & independent

What about the fans?

  • Want to learn something while they’re reading, or are interested in specific time period
  • Many have specific preferences about time/place in Historical Fiction, but may be willing to read other genres with similar setting
  • May appreciate literary writing style in many Historical Fiction novels
  • Appreciate large books with lots of detail

RA Interview Tips

  • Ask readers to talk about Historical Fiction they’ve enjoyed before asking about preferred time period/country - listen if they prefer action over characters, or real historical figures over fictional ones
  • Does the reader want a book that covers a large span of time or a shorter one?
  • Check for maps, genealogies, or historical notes
  • Other genres to try: Mysteries, Military Adventure, Historical Romances, Biographies & Memoirs, Alternate Histories

Subgenres

  • Found across most popular genres, especially Romance & Mystery
  • Subgenres determined by time period/era

Top Authors

  • Jean Auel
  • Philippa Gregory
  • Robert Harris
  • James Michener
  • Sharon Kay Penman
  • Jeff Shaara
  • Susan Vreeland

Characteristics

  • Main intent is to frighten the reader
  • Populated by monsters and/or supernatural beings
  • Can focus on psychological horror
  • Dark tone, sense of foreboding
  • Often feature graphic sex, violence, and language
  • Unresolved ending – the evil is rarely defeated
  • Can have surreal elements bordering on dark fantasy
  • May include humorous elements

Appeal

  • Sense of fear and foreboding
  • Stories often feel “out of control”
  • Face worst fears in a safe environment
  • Explore dark side of human nature

What about the fans?

  • Male & female readers of all ages, but especially popular with teens
  • They expect the unexpected – they want to be scared!
  • Not everyone tolerates the same amount of gore
  • Readers may request indie titles that aren’t generally purchased by public libraries

RA Interview Tips

  • Ask readers about favorite horror movies if they have a hard time talking about books – can pinpoint if they enjoy stories about ghosts, monsters, serial killers, etc.  Many popular horror movies have also been based on books.
  • Does the reader want a book that builds in intensity, or starts off horrifically?
  • Suggest short stories if the reader isn’t sure what type of horror they want
  • Classic Horror novels age well & make for good suggestions
  • Other genres to try: Psychological Suspense, Thrillers, True Crime, Paranormal Romance, Dark Fantasy

Subgenres

  • Ancient Evil
  • Comic Evil
  • Demonic Horror
  • Ghosts/Haunted Houses
  • Psychological Horror
  • Splatterpunk
  • Vampires
  • Werewolves
  • Witches & Warlocks

Top Authors

  • Clive Barker
  • Ramsey Campbell
  • Joe Hill
  • Shirley Jackson
  • Stephen King
  • HP Lovecraft
  • Richard Matheson
  • Edgar Allen Poe
  • John Saul
  • Dan Simmons
  • Bram Stoker
  • Peter Straub

Characteristics

  • Deliberately promote a Christian worldview
  • May be evangelical or allegorical
  • Good always triumphs over evil
  • Conflict can range from a personal level to a universal level
  • Featured in every genre
  • Often focuses on a particular theme that is relevant to Christianity

Appeal

  • Validation of religious beliefs
  • Characters’ faith-based decisions can serve as a real-life model
  • Characters can serve as inspiration
  • Does not include elements that go against a Christian lifestyle (eg. sex & language)
  • Some novels may include violence

What about the fans?

  • Often women of evangelical faith, but don’t assume they want a novel that is explicitly evangelical
  • May prefer titles that focus on a specific denomination (Catholic, Mormon, Amish, etc.)
  • Sci-fi, thriller, & fantasy titles draw younger readers & male readers
  • May appreciate Gentle Reads as well

RA Interview Tips

  • Check if the reader wants a Gentle Read.  Inspirational Fiction always has religious element, but may be more intense in terms of violence/action.
  • Do they want a genre crossover?  Historical Fiction, Romance, Mystery, Suspense, etc.
  • Award lists can be used as a good resource
  • Other genres to try: Gentle Reads, Cozy Mysteries, Romance, Women’s Fiction

Subgenres

  • Apocalyptic
  • Contemporary
  • Historical
  • Romance
  • Western
  • Science Fiction
  • Fantasy
  • Suspense
  • Biblical

Top Authors

  • Terri Blackstock
  • Ted Dekker
  • Jerry B. Jenkins
  • Karen Kingsbury
  • Beverly Lewis
  • Janette Oke
  • Frank Peretti
  • Francine Rivers
  • Joel Rosenberg

Characteristics

  • Focus on quality writing
  • Complex, well-developed characters
  • Stories focus on human condition & everyday life
  • Pose questions about complex moral issues
  • Use symbolism & imagery
  • Often complex and/or experimental
  • Slower pace

Appeal

  • Encourage readers to think about particular issues
  • Requires a certain amount of effort
  • Readers form opinions & make connections to their own lives

What about the fans?

  • Popular with book groups & readers who want well-developed characters
  • Often find book suggestions via reviews in prestigious publications (eg. NYT, The Atlantic, etc.)
  • May be interested in exploring other genres, as long as the stories are of literary quality
  • Appreciate award-winning titles & authors
  • Prefer books with more complex plots, themes, language, etc.
  • Often very interested to discuss books with librarians & often willing to provide feedback after they finish the book

RA  Interview Tips

  • Readers not usually looking for exact readalikes – much more willing to try new titles.
  • Classic titles are good suggestions, as are short stories/prizewinning collections
  • May appreciate thematic links between books  - may not be willing to read Da Vinci Code, but may be interested in more literary titles that feature complex puzzles or literary/historical/artistic settings
  • Often appreciate International or Multicultural authors
  • Use lists of book club suggestions for ideas
  • Other genres to try: Historical Fiction, Science Fiction authors like Ursula K. LeGuin, Women’s Fiction, classic Horror or Psychological Suspense

Subgenres

  • No distinctive subgenres

Top Authors

  • Michael Chabon
  • John Irving
  • Barbara Kingsolver
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Cormac McCarthy
  • Ian McEwan
  • Toni Morrison
  • Joyce Carol Oates
  • Ann Patchett
  • Phillip Roth
  • Amy Tan
  • Anne Tyler

Characteristics

  • Reader & characters must use clues to solve a crime
  • Intricately plotted
  • Slow or fast paced
  • Range in tone from gritty to light-hearted to humorous to darkly suspenseful
  • Often feature series character
  • End of the story must tie up loose ends & have the crime solved

Appeal

  • Mind puzzles that pit the reader against the sleuth
  • Morality play, where good triumphs over bad
  • Satisfying resolution
  • Characters with strong emotional appeal

What about the fans?

  • Appeals to male & female readers of all ages
  • Women tend to read more amateur sleuth/cozy mysteries; men tend to read more PI/police procedurals
  • Enjoy series & following the same character throughout.  Often want to read series in order, even if it’s not necessary to understand the story.
  • Are often drawn to particular types of characters (hardboiled, funny, eccentric, etc.), or particular subgenres (eg. private investigators, police officers, etc.)
  • Many read to figure out “whodunit” before the detective

RA Interview Tips

  • Verify that the reader is looking for books with a puzzle – crime, investigation, and solution
  • Ask reader to describe the type of detective she enjoys, rather than asking about specific subgenres
  • Pay close attention to tone, because it strongly affects the appeal of a particular mystery, regardless of subgenre.
  • May enjoy Mysteries with a particular frame (cooking, gardening, etc.), geographic location, or time period
  • Readers who talk about investigative details more likely to appreciate police procedurals or PI novels rather than cozies/amateur detective stories
  • When starting a reader on a new series, try to hook the reader with the best representative title of that series – may not be the first title!  (Check NoveList for suggestions.)
  • Other genres to try: Suspense, Thrillers, Romantic Suspense, Paranormal Romance, True Crime

Subgenres

  • Amateur Detective (includes Cozies)
  • Crime/Caper
  • Historical
  • Humorous
  • Police Detective
  • Private Investigator

Top Authors

  • Agatha Christie
  • Michael Connelly
  • Patricia Cornwell
  • Diane Mott Davidson
  • Janet Evanovich
  • Dashiell Hammett
  • Carl Hiassen
  • Ed McBain
  • Alexander McCall Smith
  • Jo Nesbo
  • Louise Penny
  • Elizabeth Peters

Characteristics

  • Elaborate plots characterized by frequent twists, surprises, and layers
  • Endings not always resolved
  • Chilling, disturbing tone that keeps readers off balance
  • Protagonists may be unlikeable or unreliable, but always compelling
  • Readers may observe the characters, rather than participate in their situation.
  • Writing style more literary
  • Physical action less intense
  • More measured pace 

Appeal

  • Psychological focus creates in-depth characters
  • Stories are often disturbing and surprising
  • Literary, often elegant writing
  • Voyeuristic quality, with readers privy to a character’s darkest thoughts
  • Highly atmospheric

What about the fans?

  • Expect intense, surprising stories – the best stories are the ones that surprise readers the most
  • Often willing to read across genres, as long as the stories are intense, psychological, and disturbing
  • Lots of psychological suspense readers nowadays, with popularity of Gone Girl

RA Interview Tips

  • Classic titles, such as The Talented Mr. Ripley or Rebecca¸ still resonate with modern readers
  • Unlikeable characters are a mainstay of psychological suspense, but not all readers enjoy reading about characters they don’t like.  Verify that this is not a deal breaker.
  • Readers enjoy surprises – don’t give away too much plot summary!
  • Other genres to try: True Crime that focuses on intense, disturbing crimes, Literary Fiction, Horror, or intense Thrillers/Mysteries.

Subgenres

  • None

Key Authors

  • Peter Abrahams
  • Chelsea Cain
  • Gillian Flynn
  • Thomas Harris
  • Mo Hayder
  • Patricia Highsmith
  • Jeff Lindsay
  • Joyce Carol Oates
  • Michael Robotham
  • Minette Walters

Characteristics

  • Stories always end in either declaration of love or marriage
  • Main characters are strong & independent
  • Anti-heroes have redeeming features
  • Plots are simple & easy to follow
  • Series often do not follow the same character(s), but instead rotate between family members, secondary characters, etc.
  • Fast pace
  • No surprises

Appeal

  • Experience emotional catharsis
  • Find comfort in an expected happy ending
  • Easy to get lost in the story

What about the fans?

  • Mainly women, all age groups
  • Romance fans may be reluctant to openly admit they read Romance
  • Often enjoy reading everything by a particular author, or everything in a series
  • Lots of different reading patterns: may follow only a particular publisher’s series (eg. Silhouette Desire), may want to discover new Romance authors, or may enjoy a range of books with romantic themes that aren’t specifically Romance

RA Interview Tips

  • Especially important to remain open & nonjudgmental when talking about Romances
  • Ask reader to talk about a book they enjoyed & determine if they’re looking for a Romance or a novel with romantic themes
  • Do they prefer a particular time frame?  (Historical, Contemporary, Regency, etc.)
  • What amount of sex are they comfortable with?  Listen for clues in what the reader says, or try using words like “sweet,” “gentle,” “racy,” or “steamy” to see what they’d prefer.
  • Other genres to try: Fantasy, Romantic Suspense, Women’s Lives and Relationships, Biographies, other novels with a strong romantic interest

Subgenres

  • Contemporary
  • Erotic
  • Historical
  • Paranormal
  • Regency (takes place in England 1811-1820)
  • Romantic suspense (some consider this to be a separate genre)

Top Authors

  • Maya Banks
  • Suzanne Brockman
  • Jennifer Crusie
  • Julie Garwood
  • Sherrilyn Kenyon
  • Debbie Macomber
  • Susan Elizabeth Phillips
  • Amanda Quick (pseudonym for Jayne Anne Krentz)
  • Julia Quinn
  • Nora  Roberts

Characteristics

  • Very fast pacing from the very beginning of the story
  • Heroines are resourceful, independent, and skilled – usually don’t need help from the hero
  • Blend hard-edged Suspense and sensual Romance
  • Language shares qualities with Romance – witty dialogue, sensual descriptions, etc.
  • Often feature detailed backgrounds & exotic settings

Appeal

  • Heroine is relatable and usually a strong, independent character
  • Fast, relentless pacing and ominous tone create a tense, yet enjoyable read
  • Harder Suspense elements appeal to readers who may not normally enjoy pure Romance
  • Detailed backgrounds/frames add interesting depth to the story

What About the Fans?

  • Need to connect emotionally with the heroine & her situation
  • Often read for the exotic, well-developed settings
  • Expect satisfying ending – both Romance & Mystery novels usually feature resolved ending with justice being served, all questions answered – and they expect the heroine to stay safe
  • Enjoy reading to see how the heroine will save herself

RA Interview Tips

  • If a reader asks for “Romantic Suspense” by genre, they might be referring to classic authors, such as Daphne du Maurier or Victoria Holt.
  • Fans of newer Romantic Suspense (eg. Nora Roberts, Suzanne Brockmann, etc.) will usually ask for the author by name
  • Romantic Suspense authors often write both Romance and Romantic Suspense – verify exactly what the reader is looking for. 
  • Other genres to try: harder-edged Suspense, Medical Thrillers (eg. Tess Gerritsen), or cozy mysteries if they prefer gentler Romantic Suspense.

Subgenres

  • None

Key Authors

  • Suzanne Brockmann
  • Catherine Coulter
  • Julie Garwood
  • Iris Johansen
  • Jayne Ann Krentz
  • Nora Roberts

Characteristics

  • Technology & science at forefront of story
  • Reader challenged to accept new cultures & technology
  • Plot driven
  • Moderate-fast pace
  • Short stories are prominent
  • Explore philosophical or intellectual questions

Appeal

  • Intellectually challenging
  • Adrenaline rush in militaristic/space opera science fiction
  • Cross-overs in many other genres, including Romance, Mystery, and Horror
  • Prevailing sense of awe & wonder

What about the fans?

  • Readers often introduced to science fiction at a young age – lots of teen Science Fiction readers
  • More male readers than female
  • Typically not prominent library users, but are very outspoken about their reading preferences
  • Very useful sources of knowledge for librarians

RA Interview Tips

  • It’s really hard to make suggestions to hard core Science Fiction fans – they are not always open to suggestions.  But their info could be really useful for readers who are new to Science Fiction.
  • Science Fiction label may be off-putting to nonSciFi readers – focus on describing the appeal before revealing it’s a Science Fiction title.
  • Older classics may not resonate as much with younger fans
  • Other genres to try: Fantasy, Literary Fiction (eg. Haruki Murakami), Military or Scientific Thrillers, True Science

Subgenres

  • “Hard” Science Fiction (intellectually challenging, strong science elements)
  • “Soft” Science Fiction (focus on culture, gender, and/or relationship
  • Military
  • Media (Star Wars, Star Trek, Halo, etc.)
  • Universe (complete ecology with plants, animals, and alien residents)
  • Cyberpunk (Gritty, focus on computers & technology, usually set in near-future)
  • Alternate History
  • Steampunk (Speculative fiction with throwback technologies, often from Victorian era.)

Top Authors

  • Isaac Asimov
  • Lois McMaster Bujold
  • Orson Scott Card
  • Philip K. Dick
  • Frank Herbert
  • Ursula K. LeGuin
  • Cherie Priest
  • Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Mary Doria Russell
  • Neal Stephenson
  • David Weber
  • Connie Willis

Characteristics

  • Emphasize physical & psychological danger
  • Often sets up the danger in the prologue/first chapter – suspense builds from there
  • Dark, menacing atmosphere
  • Compressed time frame
  • Often partially told from the villain’s point of view

Appeal

  • Reader identifies with the main character, but derives pleasure from knowing more than the main character
  • High entertainment value
  • Clear delineation between good and evil
  • Main character will survive the end of the book
  • Cross-overs in many other genres, including Romance, Mystery, and Horror

What about the fans?

  • Enjoy suspense for the pacing, and expect to be pulled in at the very beginning
  • Enjoy knowing more than the main character(s)
  • Expect plot twists, particularly towards the end
  • May be drawn towards specific themes, such as serial killers or suspense novels with forensic details

RA Interview Tips

  • Determine how much violence the reader is willing to tolerate: “Do you mind a book with more vivid descriptions of violence?”
  • Setting not as important as with other genres
  • Look to the book cover for clues – one word titles, and dark imagery often indicates suspense
  • Other genres to try: Mysteries, Thrillers, Psychological Suspense, or True Crime.

Subgenres

  • Psychological suspense & romantic suspense have their own categories

Top Authors

  • Lee Child
  • Mary Higgins Clark
  • Harlan Coben
  • Jeffery Deaver
  • Lisa Gardner
  • James Patterson
  • John Sandford

Characteristics

  • Set against professional background (eg. Lawyer, doctor, politician), often with extensive details and jargon
  • Cinematic, fast paced stories with lots of plot twists.  Expect to see lots of conspiracies!
  • Compressed time frame.
  • Main characters are usually strong & sympathetic, and often work alone.
  • Secondary characters not usually as well-developed.
  • Tone usually dark, gritty, and tense.
  • May include graphic violence/sex
  • Often shares elements with Adventure, Suspense, and Mystery

Appeal

  • Reader identifies with the main character
  • High entertainment value
  • Clear delineation between good and evil
  • Get “inside look” at specific profession (forensic, legal, medical, etc.)
  • May play on “hot button” topics of the day (terrorism, bio-engineering, climate change, etc.)

What about the fans?

  • Males tend towards military, techno, and espionage thrillers; women often prefer medical thrillers
  • Expect sympathetic heroes and evil villains
  • Want complex (and occasionally convoluted) plotlines – they expect the unexpected
  • Each person has varying levels of tolerable violence
  • Often enjoy reading suspense as well

RA Interview Tips

  • Ask reader about favorite movies if they have a hard time talking about a favorite book
  • Book covers usually give key information about subgenre, time period, etc.
  • Readers may use “thriller” to describe a wide range of books – use the patron’s definition to find a good match
  • Other genres to try: Suspense, detail-heavy Mysteries, Military Adventure, True Crime, or accounts of real-life trials

Subgenres

  • Action/Military
  • Bio/Eco
  • Financial
  • Legal
  • Medical/Forensic
  • Techno
  • Political
  • Spy

Key Authors

  • David Baldacci
  • Tom Clancy
  • Robin Cook
  • Michael Crichton
  • John Grisham
  • Stieg Larsson
  • Lisa Scottoline
  • Daniel Silva

Characteristics

  • Usually set in Western US from Civil War to early 1900’s
  • Hero often a loner who rides into town & rides out
  • Historical accuracy not always important
  • Mythic feel
  • Focus on landscape & man’s connection with the land
  • Hero often placed in a “morality” play – bring justice & restore order
  • “Modern” westerns often more literary & complex

Appeal

  • Speak to deep-seated feelings about the land
  • Action-packed adventures
  • Detailed descriptions of the landscape
  • Often romantic, nostalgic tone
  • Timeless quality

What About the Fans?

  • Mainly male readers, but with a growing female readership
  • Appreciate action-filled story, usually with a loner hero bringing justice to the West
  • Often prefer titles without sex, strong language, or violence
  • May prefer characters to be clearly good or evil, unlike in literary westerns which have more ambiguous characters

RA Interview Tips

  • Some readers find a difference between Westerns and Novels of the West, but may be willing to read both if the traditional themes are similar
  • Shorter books with more dialogue & white space à more adventurous story
  • Longer book with denser writing à more descriptive, with the emphasis on setting and tone
  • Other genres to try: Mysteries with Western settings, Historical Fiction, Thrillers without too much modern technology, or Literary Fiction

Subgenres

  • Native Americans
  • Lawmen
  • Texas & Mexico
  • Livestock/Ranching
  • Celebrity Characters
  • Women of the West
  • Romance

Top Authors

  • Don Coldsmith
  • Ivan Doig
  • Loren D. Estleman
  • Elmore Kelton
  • Louis L’Amour
  • Larry McMurtry

Characteristics

  • Explore the lives of female protagonists
  • Focus on relationships (friends, family, lovers)
  • Range of tones (funny, sad, suspenseful, romantic, hopeful, etc.)
  • Can be fast or slow paced

Appeal

  • Readers identify with characters – characters begin to feel like friends
  • Relevant situations with resolved endings – can give readers hope about situations in their own lives
  • Almost always reflect real life (few fantastical/supernatural elements)

What About the Fans?

  • Women – very few male readers
  • May be willing to read range of authors, as long as the stories deal with female relationships
  • Often attracted to protagonists roughly their own age
  • Themes & topics vary based on targeted age group.  Chick lit deals with independence, finding one’s way in the world, and establishing identity.  Women’s fiction with older protagonists may deal with careers, sustaining friendships, marital problems, etc.
  • May appeal to romance readers, although happy ending is not guaranteed

RA Interview Tips

  • Readers may not use term “Women’s Fiction,” so it’s good to be familiar with the popular authors in case a reader mentions one.
  • Are they looking for something serious & literary or fun and fluffy?
  • Other genres to try: Romance, Gentle Reads, Literary Fiction, female-driven Biographies & Memoirs (eg. Eat, Pray, Love; Wild, etc.)

Subgenres

  • Chick Lit
  • Christian Chick Lit
  • Ethnic Chick Lit
  • Issue-Driven

Top Authors

  • Elizabeth Berg
  • Barbara Delinsky
  • Kristin Hannah
  • Alice Hoffman (Also literary fiction)
  • Marian Keyes
  • Sophie Kinsella
  • Jodi Picoult
  • Danielle Steel
  • Adriana Trigiani
  • Jennifer Weiner