Julie Ann Walker | Writing Outside of the Genre Box aka The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Reader Fan-mail
October 19, 2012
Hello, all you romance and romantic suspense fans out there! I'm Julie Ann
Walker, author of the Black Knights Inc. series, and I'm tickled pink to be back
on Fresh Fiction, discussing the ups and downs - and downright insanity - that
comes with tiptoeing outside the genre box...
But before I fill you in on some of the cray-cray that's come my way since the
series debuted, let me begin by filling you - or those of you who don't
currently own one of my books, but will run out and snag yourselves a copy after
reading this post (not-so-subliminal message complete) - in on what my series is
about. Think Sons of Anarchy meets 007. You see, the Black Knights are a group
of super-hot ex-spec-ops warriors who've started their own government defense
firm operating under the guise of a custom motorcycle shop. Now, doesn't that
sound like something fun to read? All that vroom and boom and
tough men riding around on badass bikes? Hehehe! *wiggles eyebrows*
Okay, so now that I've pimped myself and my series sufficiently, let's talk
about genres, shall we? Those categories of books that allow us to lose
ourselves in the stories, yet still feel the security of knowing, for the most
part, where the plot will lead us. For Historicals, there's usually a powerful,
titled man and a woman who's stronger and more willful than the strictures of
her era commonly allow. For Paranormals, there's generally an alpha male or
woman with super-human abilities or characteristics that makes life for everyone
involved more difficult and interesting. And for Romantic Suspense, we expect a
strong man who knows how to handle his gun, and woman who's in danger from
Now, I know this is a very stereotypical, generalized summation of the different
genres. I know it doesn't touch on the specifics that make each story unique
and compelling. But that's sort of my point. Because they say the devil is in
the details. And it's the details, both big and small, that readers latch onto,
that they either come to love or hate.
Perhaps this blog post is a cautionary tale, or a tale of triumph; I'm not sure
which. Because the truth of the matter is, I've discovered what some people
adore about my books is exactly what others abhor about them. And when I
receive reader mail either extolling or slamming the virtues of my series, I'm
fascinated to learn it's the things that cross the line of what's expected in
the genre that really gets folks fired up.
See, there's violence in my books. Dark, gritty scenes that go beyond what is
generally found in romance, scenes I hope accurately depict the horrors of war
and combat. On the flip side, there's also quite a bit of humor in my books.
With a fat cat and a computer whiz kid as characters, it's difficult not add a
little levity to some pretty intense situations. Therefore, when I receive
feedback from readers, it usually comes in two forms. The first form: "I
loved your books! You made me laugh AND cry, and that's the first time in years
that's happened to me while reading a romance." And the second form:
"I hate your books. They're too violent, and the humor is totally
inappropriate for Romantic Suspense." (Both of those examples are actual
You can see my conundrum - every author's conundrum, in fact - which is to stay
within the bounds of the genre or to take a leap outside. So tell me, Fresh
Fiction-ers, do you like books that break the rules? Or do you prefer to know
what you're getting into?
One commenter (US / Canadian addresses only) will win a copy of REV-IT UP
He Never Misses a Target
Jake "the Snake" Sommers earned his SEAL codename by striking quickly
and quietly - and with lethal force. That's how he broke Michelle Carter's
heart. It was the only way to keep her safe - from himself. Four long years
later, Jake is determined to get a second chance. But to steal back into
Michelle's loving arms, Jake is going to have to prove he can take things slow.
She Aims to Make Him Beg
Michelle Carter has never forgiven Jake for being so cliché as to "love her
and leave her." But when her brother, head of the Black Knights elite ops
agency, ticks off the wrong mobster, she must do the unimaginable: place her
life in Jake's hands. No matter what they call him, this man is far from
cold-blooded. And once he's wrapped around her heart, he'll never let her
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Julie Ann Walker is
the USA Today and New York Times Bestselling Author of the Black Knights Inc.
romantic suspense series. She is prone to spouting movie quotes and song lyrics.
She'll never say no to sharing a glass of wine or going for a long walk. She
prefers impromptu travel over the scheduled kind, and she takes her coffee with
milk. You can find her on her bicycle along the lake shore in Chicago or
blasting away at her keyboard, trying to wrangle her capricious imagination into
submission. Look for the first two books in her fast-paced series: HELL ON WHEELS (August
2012) and IN RIDES
TROUBLE (September 2012). For more information, please visit www.julieannwalker.com
or follow her on Facebook www.facebook.com/jawalkerauthor and/or
51 comments posted.
Re: Julie Ann Walker | Writing Outside of the Genre Box aka The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Reader Fan-mail
I like to know what I'm getting into but I also don't want the book to be predictable. I like when an author can surprise me.
(Kristin Bingham 1:05am October 19, 2012)
kind of like books that break the rules, that way you never really know whats going to happen or where its headed.
(Michael Cuchinelli 5:36am October 19, 2012)
Romantic suspense, Nothing better!
(Marjorie Carmony 7:17am October 19, 2012)
I love the unexpected and enjoy guessing through the entire read. What's not to like. Keep on keeping on.
(Beth Charette 7:58am October 19, 2012)
I like both. I have a lot of books still to read on my kindle and they cover all areas of romance, so that I can pick and choose depending on how I am feeling at the end of one book to the start of the next.
(Barbara Hanson 8:27am October 19, 2012)
I like books that break rules...as long as I'm prepared for
it. Rules are made to be broken, after all.
(Karin Anderson 8:47am October 19, 2012)
I like to be surprised - as long it makes sense, and isn't totally inconceivable. Romance and suspense together? A perfect combo, in my humble opinion.
(Nancy Reynolds 9:49am October 19, 2012)
Thanks to Fresh Fiction for having me on today. As always,
it's a honor. Keep up the good work!
(Julie Walker 10:22am October 19, 2012)
@Kristin Bingham, you've hit the nail on the head. Toeing
that line between being true to the genre and not falling into
the predictable. Good luck in the giveaway!
(Julie Walker 10:24am October 19, 2012)
@Michael Cuchinelli, you and I would get along famously. I
like a book that keeps me guessing and on the edge of my seat!
(Julie Walker 10:25am October 19, 2012)
@Marjorie Carmony, I agree! And I love your first name. It
was my grandmother's...
(Julie Walker 10:25am October 19, 2012)
@Beth Charette, that's the plan. To just keep on keeping on.
Fingers crossed for you in the giveaway!
(Julie Walker 10:26am October 19, 2012)
@Barbara Hanson, I know exactly how you feel. Sometimes I'm
in the mood for some gritty paranormal, and other times I
want to get lost in a bygone era, so I reach for a
historical. Which is why I LOVE romance. So many different
genres to choose from, yet I still know there's going to be
a happily-ever-after at the end. :-)
(Julie Walker 10:28am October 19, 2012)
@Karin Anderson, that's how I feel EXACTLY. Rules are made to
be broken. Good luck in the giveaway!
(Julie Walker 10:29am October 19, 2012)
@Nancy Reynolds, romance and suspense are the perfect combo in
my opinion, too. LOL! Thanks for writing in! Cheers!
(Julie Walker 10:30am October 19, 2012)
I like to know what I'm getting into, but sometimes a surprise is a good thing.
(Wilma Frana 11:13am October 19, 2012)
I think that it is good to be pleasantly suprised. Sometimes having more of the same is the idea of having pizza 3 times a day for the rest of your life. I would never have found some great authors if I didn't branch out - into other genres, into storylines that I might have walked away from. At least when someone reads your series there is an emotion - some people can't claim that.
(Carla Carlson 11:25am October 19, 2012)
Well, pretty much by the cover, I know what genre I'm getting into already. I
do like it when an author stretches a genre, and gives us something outside of
the formulaic box approach that so many of the "big name" authors have
begun to use without fail. I have actually taken many of my "auto-buy"
authors off of my auto-buy list and refuse to read their work anymore, simply
because I just feel like I'm getting the same book over and over. All they seem
to do is change the character's names and the location. If I start flipping to
the back after the third chapter, it's not a good sign. That is very frustrating,
and it's the reason that I have to switch genres so often when I read.
I don't like it when an author tries to get too ambitious though. I've read a few
books where it was like the author simply couldn't decide which genre he/she
liked, so the book ended up becoming too confusing to follow.
I am very anxiously awaiting the arrival of the first book in your series, Julie.
I've heard good things about it, and I can't wait to read it for myself!
Best of luck to you.
(Debbie Burdeen 12:42pm October 19, 2012)
I enjoy being surprised when I read a book and sometimes a book can fall into more than one genre. But, I don't like it when things get too crazy. I once read a western and the next thing I know the female character is living in a tree. It just didn't fit and ruined the whole story for me.
(Kathleen Yohanna 12:54pm October 19, 2012)
This is a great giveaway...hope I win!!
(Bonnie Capuano 12:54pm October 19, 2012)
@Debbie Burdeen, ah, the dreaded rut all genre authors tend
to fall into... It's a challenge. Because if something is
working, an author's publisher wants to keep on keeping on.
Yet, as you pointed out, the flip side of that is readers
begin to get bored with an author. Very interesting
(Julie Walker 1:17pm October 19, 2012)
@Kathleen Yohanna, a tree? LOL! Now I have to run to Google
and buy this book. Color me intrigued. :-D
(Julie Walker 1:18pm October 19, 2012)
@Bonnie Capuano, good luck in the drawing!
(Julie Walker 1:18pm October 19, 2012)
I like to know the genre---but I do like a book to break the rules and be different.
(Sue Farrell 1:51pm October 19, 2012)
I like to see books be different, but still let you know what genre you are reading... so I guess I enjoy both.
(Colleen Conklin 2:36pm October 19, 2012)
I'm in agreement with just about everyone here - bend the rules as far as possible and/or as needed to make the book work!
(Lynn Rettig 2:58pm October 19, 2012)
Yes, let's bend the rules and make the story more intriguing.
(Anna Speed 3:37pm October 19, 2012)
I am okay with beding the rules. :) I just don't like 'false adverstising' when it comes to covers.
(May Pau 5:23pm October 19, 2012)
WHEN YOU SAID SONS MEETS 007. YOU HOOKED ME!! CAN'T WAIT TO READ!!!!LOVE THE COVER!!!
(Jennifer Beck 5:30pm October 19, 2012)
Rules are made to be broken!
(Kathy Fowler 5:49pm October 19, 2012)
I love books that go beyond the rules. I like a book that keeps me guessing and keeps my interest. Your book sounds amazing and I cant wait to read it.
(Emily Bowes 6:20pm October 19, 2012)
I LOVE BOOKS THAT BREAKS THE RULES ITS MORE INTERESTING AND
MORE INTERESTING TO READ.
(Shelly Caggiano 6:22pm October 19, 2012)
I would love to win your book. It sounds great.
(Linda Hall 6:34pm October 19, 2012)
Writing outside the genres leaves the readers guessing and isn't predictable. Breaking or bending the rules makes me take notice and ask the 5 reporters' questions: Why, who, what, when, where? And then the one that writers want to know: How?
(Alyson Widen 7:20pm October 19, 2012)
Books that break the rules don't bother me. It depends on the mood I'm in. When I'm in the right frame of mind, I can "get down and dirty with the best of them," so to speak, so the emotions hit me the way the Author means for them to. Otherwise, the book might come off as a bit abrasive, but I would still read it and not hold it against the Author. I haven't read any of your books yet, but would love reading one. My Husband says I have an odd sense of humor, so perhaps your books wouldn't have the effect on me that you think they will. Congratulations on your book!!
(Peggy Roberson 8:07pm October 19, 2012)
thanks for this chance
(Debbi Shaw 8:27pm October 19, 2012)
I like books that break the rule. It makes the story more interesting.
(Kai Wong 8:56pm October 19, 2012)
Breaking rules??? I love to read all kinds.
(Mary Hay 9:01pm October 19, 2012)
When you stretch the bounds of a genre you risk not being shelved with that preferred genre in bookshops. Publishers don't know how to market you. They may not wish to publish you at all if you are not clearly in a genre that they want to be producing. So it can be very risky to push the boundaries.
But look at Neuromancer, the book which pushed the bounds of SF so far that it created a whole new sub-genre of cyber punk, from which we got The Matrix. Sometimes books just have to be written the way they come to you.
(Clare O'Beara 8:32am October 20, 2012)
I like it when I'm surprised. Go ahead and break those rules. I've been reading a long time, and I really like it when a story can surprise me.
Please enter me in your giveaway. Your books sound interesting and I'd love to get a jump start on giving them a try.
(Karen Prentice 4:37pm October 20, 2012)
I like books that break the rules. I love the unexpected, the not knowing what's going to happen next or where the story is headed for that element of surprise...which is so interesting, it's a real page-turner. I enjoy authors that don't go off in too many different directions that make the story get confusing, stupid, or lose my interest. Many times, I'll read the first few pages in the beginning from a book that looks good to me, if I'm captivated (no matter what the genre is), then I'll get the book that leaves me wanting to keep reading more. Love your cover...it's H-O-T!
(Linda Luinstra 4:58pm October 20, 2012)
i lvoe books that break the rules a little I wanna be in suspense not knowing what to expect
(Danielle McDonald 6:44pm October 20, 2012)
I love when an author breaks the rules. It usually takes stories in very interesting directions.
(Larena Hubble 1:09am October 21, 2012)
Hey Julie - I'd never heard of you or your books before reading your post but I love that you've managed to put a new twist on the genre and plan to run out and search for your books! I think readers will accept something that sounds fantastical if it's well-written and well thought out.
(Dana Wong 5:58am October 21, 2012)
I've read the first 3 Black Knights and look forward to the
next installment. I LOVE books that think outside the box.
Things tend to get formulaic if you don't. My only
complaint is that bookstore owners seem to need labels in
order to shelve books. I recently went to re-purchase the
feaver series by Karen Marie Moning and found 2 in romance,
2 in Scifi/fantasy and 1 in fiction. Write your stories as
they come to you and there will be an audience.
(Donna Antonio 7:29am October 21, 2012)
I like books that strive to break new ground... some attempts just don't make it, but end up being really good books anyway. I do think that when it comes to certain subject lines, though, the readers need to be aware of the book's potential to be offensive to some in the realm of sexual permissiveness/deviance issues, or interms of disturbing topics like detailed incest, etc. I've read a few off-name brand publisher books that really threw me for a loop and that I know would have been extremely offensive to other book readers I know, so it is definitely an issue.
Either way, most of the well-known publishing groups have done a very good job to prevent those nasty suprises, and I seldom run into this problem.
(Donna Holmberg 3:03pm October 21, 2012)
I think it's funny but some of the best books I have read are from writers
that wrote outside of their normal genre. So I think if an author can take
the chance, we as readers can be the winners in the long run!
(Vicki Hancock 4:15pm October 21, 2012)
I've read all the Black Knights books so far and each one is better than the last. I love reading books that are "outside the box". (That's where I live) I've found that some series get stale and it seems the writer doesn't know where to go and what would rejuvinate the series. The great thing about your books is the fact that characters from previous books step into the new ones but don't dominate them. After all, they've had their chance. I read everything from paranormal to contemporary and I love angst in my books and the fact that the road to tha happy ever after is NEVER smoothe. After all, if it was really easy, it wouldn't be worth it now, would it?
(Denise Kobylarz 6:14pm October 22, 2012)
I like most of the stuff. The only thing that would bother me is a blurb saying
this is a historical or suspense & it is really horror or fantasy. And that has
happened. I don't mind if you go out of the box just do 't let the pub or
whoever false advertise the box. 😉
(Penny Mettert 12:01pm October 23, 2012)
I read SO MANY romance books that it's wonderful to be
surprised. That being said there are things that define
romance that can't be broken for me:
I MUST have my HEA at the end.
You can't kill off a key character that I've come to love
Don't abuse or kill animals
I adore plot twists, unpredictability and surprises. Humor
is always a plus and moves the author/series up to my HAVE
TO PURCHASE AND READ IMMEDIATLY List.
(Lenna Hendershott 4:05pm October 24, 2012)
would LOVE to win & read
I have 1st 2 books!!
(Pamela Faye Howell 4:02pm November 15, 2012)
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