Ask a Wench

InonlyJo here. This month's question for the Wenches is: Is there a story type or a genre you haven't written but would like to one day?  What attracts you to it, and what makes it difficult to do?

We all came at this in different ways, but there are constants, the main ones being time and practicality. Time — we never have enough time to write all the ideas dancing in our heads. Practicality — we all earn our livings from our writing, and not many readers support authors who bounce around different types of books. As readers we're all like that, aren't we? Growling and grouching when our favorite author does something different.

True, or not true? 'Fess up.

So I'll go first.

There isn't a story type or genre I'd like to write but haven't, but that's because I've dabbled a lot. I did mystery in The Stanforth Secrets, which taught me that I didn't like that sort of plotting. I have always played among the imaginative freedom of fantasy and science fiction, and I've brought those elements into many of my works, especially novellas. Probably my most out-there one, in all senses, is the SF romance, The Trouble With Heroes. If you're in the mood for an unlikely hero having to save a world far, far away, follow the link.Ttsm

Tucked away on my computer I have a couple of contemporary romances written way back when, and a fantasy romance that was too odd even for the speculative fiction world! I have to say I thought one rejection puzzling. "Magic doesn't work like that."

Here's what the other Wenches had to say.

TheCocoaConspiracy_APenroseAs a reader, I really enjoy a number of different genres. And as a writer I’m always curious to explore. So I suppose it’s only natural that I’m constantly thinking of things I’d like to try, even though they are out of my “comfort zone.” I loved stepping outside of historical romance and trying my hand at historical mystery, and I’ve got a few contemporary women’s fiction ideas that are percolating in my head for whenever I get the time to noodle out some exporatory pages (the day needs to have more than 24 hours!)

For a mysterious sip of cocoa, click here.

But what I would really love to tackle sometime is a non-fiction book in the spirit of “Seabiscuit” and “The Boys in the Boat.” I am passionate about history and how a specific era influences and intertwines with the lives of individuals. And of course I love a great, compelling story! Weaving both strands together would be a fascinating challenge.

I guess maybe I always wanted to write Science Fiction. I read Sci Fi when I was a a kid. My first favorite books and authors were SF. I learned how to build a fictive world from the SF masters — how they tack down reality by using small specific details. The hundred ways a character makes the fictive world plausible.
No way home

I delight in happy endings, so I'd want to stay Romance centered. So I guess if I were to go outside Historical Romance, I'd head me over into some paranormal. I'd tune my settings just a little bit further on the likelihood dial and let some mystical in. Really, talking about it, I almost convince myself to try this someday …

Before you get excited, that's Joanna's imagination running wild. That luscious books DOES NOT EXIST! Alas.

There are so many stories I would like to write! Years ago I wrote a contemporary women's fiction novel and I re-read some of it recently and really wanted to polish it up and do something with it. I also have ideas for historical fiction, time travel, paranormal and crime. Definitely crime. I love reading it and I would love to write it. I'm also planning a non-fiction history book. When I say planning, I've been researching it and intending to write it for about 10 years now.

As is the case with a lot of authors it's finding the time to branch out into other genres this is difficult. I'm not prolific these days which means I don't have the time to spare from writing historical romance. But it's fun to play with the other ideas in my head and one day soon I will take them out and do something with them.


DamnCould I wish for non-genre, please? I’ve written in about all recognized genres, and they all have their limitations. I understand the need for a reader to know what she’s buying, but my Muse really would like to take wing and fly and gather up all the goodies she finds and knit them together into something unique. Yeah, yeah, I know, we can wear sweaters if she sticks to a pattern, and anything woven from stardust is pretty

I’d like to be able to write an unlikable heroine. I want to write about revolution. Maybe I could have a couple of heroes, one quiet and nerdy, the other loud and athletic. Or maybe the real heroine is a granny and a kid. Or a space alien! I love alien stories. That's one scary looking heroine! If you're up to the challenge of Damn Him To Hell, click here.

But it’s rather lonely writing a book that I know no one will ever read, so I resist.


If you've got a good store of the writer gene in your DNA, even reading another genre can make you itch to write it. The urge bubbles up often to try this, try that, oooh and that other thing too. I've got ideas for stories in lots of different genres and areas, and I've started researching,
outlining and writing some of them — these are the books I play with now and then, and someday I'll bring some of them out into the sunlight.

I'd love to try my hand at historical mysteries — I love reading mysteries, both historical and contemporary — and I'd also like to try a multi-layered art history mystery-thriller-speculative
fiction thing. I'm developing some ideas along both these lines. I'd like to try YA sometime, and
books for small children too (I played with some ideas when my kids were small, but I was always so busy then – if I have grandchildren one day, I might try that for them). I love reading contemporary romantic thrillers, and I've got a few ideas there as well. And ghosts. I would love to write ghost stories.
Lady Macbeth paperback cover

I've always wanted to write historical romance, and I've been very lucky to be able to fulfill thatdream. And I've been lucky in another writing dream — big, deeply researched mainstream historical novels, which I've done in Lady Macbeth and Queen Hereafter, and I'm continuing along that vein. These books are a huge challenge in the research and in building a bigger story than we generally can pull off in a historical romance. I'm also keen on writing nonfiction history – I'm working on something now, and I've had some opportunity to write articles for historical and clan history journals, which I really enjoy doing.

But for a quick, part-time, dream writer's job – I've always wanted to be the person who names the paint colors. Whisper of Dawn Pink, Eloquent Aqua, Fairy Grove Green, Purple Tango, Cinnamon Cream … How do you get that gig? I'd love to give it a try!

Anne here:
My trouble is, I'd like to write everything. I have a sci/fi fantasy series that's been in my head for years. I also would love to write contemporary romantic comedy. I had a sequel planned for my contemporary rom/com sheriff story but the line  it was published in wasn't doing well, so I never wrote it. And before I discovered romance I was a big reader of crime fiction—I still am— and I'd love to write a crime novel.

The reason I haven't tried writing all of these different stories in different genres is that I'm a slow writer and I have to earn my own living, and swapping from genre to genre is a sure way to lose readers. I was advised early on to concentrate on my historicals, and I do love writing them. And readers keep asking for other characters' stories, and I do want to write them… But maybe one day I'll get to "play" in other genres.

Mary Jo

I read all genres, and particularly loved history, sf/f, romance, and happy endings. The great thing about writing romance is that just about all elements can be incorporated into a story as long as the romance is strong and the ending is happy.  I like adventure, so my characters get into trouble a lot. <G>

Occasionally I’ve written mystery, but more often suspense elements, since that’s easier. (Mystery requires an orderly mind and clues, while with suspense, you can get away with a maniac in the woodshed.) When the Muse began banging for more variety, I’ve mostly been able to indulge her. When I was bit by a contemporary idea, I wrote a trilogy of contemporary/women’s fiction romances. When I added fantasy to my historicals, I ended up with a Del Rey fantasy contract. I really wanted to write about Dunkirk, and that ended in a young adult paranormal/historical series. I’m not fast enough to successfully write in more than one genre, but these side trips have kept the Muse happy.

Another thing about the Brave New World of publishing is that it’s  possible to write short works to feed the Muse. Most of my creative energy goes into my historical romance, but I’ve done several short fantasy stories in the world of my Guardian magical series. Some of these stories are even contemporary, like “Toasted,” a contemporary fantasy set in New York city in Fiction River’s Christmas Ghosts anthology, published today. To be toasted,  Click here.

All in all, I’m pretty lucky writer. And I think I follow the old song: If I can’t be with the story I love, I’ll love the one I’m with!

So now you know the Wenches' wilder ways and secret desires.

Do any surprise you?

Which Wench's secret dream would you most like to see available to buy?

Have fun!