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May 14, 2009


Avery and the delicious Posie Nubbins

Oh, I'm the first comment poster!
But I like genre-less books. They leave more room for me to decide where they fit. I can't wait to read it! Thanks, Shannon!!!


Genre is useful, but not absolute. I find I'm more tolerant of average writing in certain genres, so if I'm desperate for something to read and there's nothing new by my favorite authors, looking in specific genres can help me find something acceptable. I'm not bound by it, though. Good writing is good writing.

And for some reason, I find it personally satisfying when an author writes in more than one genre. Maybe something about them working in all aspects of themselves, instead of being constrained to just one.

Shannon M.

For me, "genre" and "genre conventions" are just fancy ways of saying "rules."

When I was in film school we had to learn all of the genre conventions of every major film category and study their evolution throughout the decades...it was really boring.

But whenever we whined to our Professor-which was frequently-he always told us "you have to know the rules before you can break them." And then he encouraged us to break them.

We all crave something that feels familiar and comforting, and yet still manages to be surprising and fresh, and the best way to do that is to know what's expected, and then carefully do things our own way.

Does that mean we sometimes won't be able to categorize our creations? Absolutely. Is it a bad thing? Personally I don't think so. But that's just me.


I think this post makes me want to read "The Actor and the Housewife" even more. Although I tend to enjoy the familiarity of genre on occasion, I like when authors can expand the boundaries of genres and really explore the characters and the relationships without feeling bound one way or the other. (And just because literary fiction is "literary" doesn't mean it lacks those same kind of constraints.)

I think that might also come from you being a YA writer. YA is really pushing boundaries of genre now--YA can mean almost anything. So maybe that bleeds over into your non-YA work as well.


I like genre because I feel safe going to that for things that I'll know I enjoy. However I gotta admit that a few times when the author has thrown something else in there that doesn't fit into the category I'm generally still pleased with the book and I've realized that I could probably dabble a little more in [insert a fun genre here].

amy btw m

Sometimes I like to be surprised. I don't always like extremely predictable books. Example, I know where the end is heading, but the characters are annoying me by being idiotic and not figuring out the ending before I did. LDS romance books do this a lot. I like them for the most part, but every now and then I get one that just bugs me. I have girlfriends who won't even touch that genre.

I am really excited for The Actor and the Housewife.


One thing is important to me in a book for myself: great writing. If it's got that, I don't care about genre at all. I'm excited to read your book, because I like the way you put words together and you always tell a great story.

But as a mom of teens and preteens, I wish writers would always seriously consider their audience. I cringe when a writer says she writes only for herself. Sure, she writes for herself, but somebody else is going to be reading it, and the author has some responsibility to think about that. Words are power.

Genre may not be important, but audience is.

Holly Thatcher

I think this is a really interesting topic. I have been working on a young adult novel and reading everything I can find about getting published.

Everything I have read is quite clear that a novel must have a genre. And not too many genres, like a horror-romance-western-fantasy would be not be published, EVER. So now I wonder can you get away with the "no genre" thing because you are a successful published author, or do you think this would work if it were your first novel?


I'm very excited to read The Actor and the Housewife, because regardless of genre, I've enjoyed all of your books. But it's an interesting question. I usually like to have an idea of genre when I start reading a book. Otherwise, I'll just be really confused when it turns out to be a different genre.

I don't know if that made sense. For example, when I was reading The Thief, by Megan Whalen Turner (one of my fav. series of all time, now), I didn't know that it was a fantasy. So when it started being all fantastical, I was like, "wait, what's going on?" I ended up loving it, but it threw me off for a while. I guess that's probably because genre has been pounded into my brain for so long!


I both like and dislike genre. On the one hand, I like it because by sorting books according to type, it's easier for me to find books that I know I will like. At the same time, even though I know I like certain kinds of books, that's not the only kind I like, and when books are forced into genres, I am liable to miss really good stories.

I would never have read anything by Jane Austen, because I have always associated it with "chick lit." (Well, I tried reading Sense & Sensibility when I was 12 and was bored out of my mind, and then as I grew up and saw that just about everywhere, Austen = romance, I wrinkled my nose in distaste. I'm not a fan of romance novels, as a rule!) But then as I took English lit courses at uni, I eventually couldn't avoid Austen any longer. I read P & P a year ago, and reread S & S shortly thereafter, then got Northanger Abbey last fall. Knowing the context of the novels and reading them in lit courses made me realize that they're NOT romance novels in any way, and I regret not giving Austen a chance sooner. But if I'd never been exposed to or forced to read Austen in a non-romance novel context, I'd never have even thought about trying S & S again.

I guess I really like how the YA stuff is shelved at Barnes & Noble. The different genres are mingled together with no indication of which is which until you pick one up and read the back, so I'm more likely to grab something that's not my usual fare and give it a chance.

Hm, I think I'm going on and on here? but I agree with annie that I'm more interested in the actor and the housewife thanks to this post than I was before! (I was wary that it would be too 'chick lit' actually!)


Aww! I'm sorry you got a disappointing review! :O( But cheer-up! I love books that has a little of everything in it! :O)

Sarah Miller

I've instituted a genre called "fanciful" in my personal reading log. It's come in handy for everything from Kevin Henkes's mouse-populated picture books to Kathi Appelt's 'The Underneath.' I suspect 'The Actor and the Housewife' might fit under that umbrella as well...

Enna Isilee

It's true, it's not what I expected. It was so so so so much better, and I had high expectations. That's what I loved about tAatHw. It had everything that a good novel should have, and more! It encompassed all genres and really touched me.


I think for me as an avid reader I get in a rut and look for a particular "genre" of book. But I find that the books that really make an impact, the ones I remember, are the ones I just happened through the library and picked up because they looked interesting.

I picked up The Princess Academy, not because I was browsing the YA section but because it was place on top of a the shelf. It wasn't even in the YA section. It looked like a strange, lovely book and I loved it. I found out after reading it that it was a young adult book. It didn't occur to me that the book was written for teens. I felt the story was written for me. Thanks.

I loved Austenland, not my favorite but I have a high appreciation for it. But it was not your "typical" Shannon Hale novel. I don't think you should get pigeon-holed in one genre just because that's the one you've written most or read the most.

I've heard it said by other brilliant people that great writing can be appreciated by all ages. I think that should also include all types of readers. You do have a the strangest style. I can't wait to read this one.


I've never read it, but it sounds like a "can-suit-almost-everyone" genre. Those are THE best, because then you can talk about them, and everyone agrees that it's a great book! (:


Even books inside genres are different; I'm used to that, and I think I'll handle your book well. ;)

Lois Moss

I love books that have a little bit of everything. Give me a little suspense, a little comedy, a little drama, a little romance, a little hot british actor. Whatever. I like it all mixed together.


Maybe they should have a "real" genre. Or "alternative," like in music (my personal fave). I don't write genre, though mine could be put into genre. Kinda... Yeah. Well, I dunno. My stories contain many elements, because I just want it to be real, yet there are some fantasy and sci-fi elements that are a part of them and their world. Who cares about genre! I just read books because the story sounds interesting. I don't really classify them in my mind very much. Hardly ever, if at all.

And now I'm totally dying to get The Actor and the Housewife. GIMME!!

Carolyn V.

I think I saw that same Jackie Chan movie!!! I was waiting for him to stop talking and kick someone in the face (alas it didn't happen).

As for genre, I just finished a writer's conference where they told me to pick a genre I liked and stick with it. I had written a fantasy, but got better reviews on my funny YA stuff. I'm working on the funny instead.

As for me, I found that writers who can write something other than their genre and do well very refreshing.

I can't wait to read your book! =)


I read all kinds of books and don't limit myself to one type or genre, but I don't mind books being categorized into genres. I see the usefulness of it. Where it gets frustrating is when certain genres get flooded with formulaic writing. That drives me nuts. But some people like stories like that, so to each their own I guess. As for me, regardless of the genre or "age level" the book is marketed for, what I'm looking for is a good story. Period.

However, I think there's something legitimate about reader expectations, and the unexpected in stories can be good or bad. Unexpected when it means a story feels fresh and real, is good. Unexpected as a synonym for disappointing, is not good. The two are not mutually exclusive.

I think "reader expectations" goes beyond "genre expectations". Someone else here mentioned The Thief, which I discovered because you mentioned the author's deft handling of mystery. I LOVED the first two books, but was disappointed with the third because I mistakenly thought the series was a complete trilogy. I kept expecting certain storylines to get resolved, and when they didn't my feeling at the end was "Hey, wait a minute!" It's been a few months and my disappointment has now cooled to the point where I'd like to reread it and see if I like it better, now that I know what to expect.

I'm glad I read this post before reading your book, because now I know to expect the unexpected and to go into it without any preconceived notions that might interfere with the story. :)


Books that transcend genre have accomplished something more, I think. The author doesn't follow any formula, and they don't write to expectations, they just write. I think that's wonderful!

At the same time, I understand why genres are there. If you don't like a certain type of book, it's easier to have them labeled so you can avoid them.


I don't necessarily look at the genre of the book before I pick it up. I was recently reading the most fantastic book and then noticed the genre pasted on the spine by the library. It said HORROR. Really? Not the way I would have categorized it. I generally don't read horror books. To me it was just a fabulous adventure with some creepy backstory. I think genre is not always a driving factor if you have a really great book in your hands.


meh. anyone who doesnt like genre less books is in need of a broader reading horizon, instead of hiding in their little shells of safe genres. Keep it up! It doesnt matter what readers 'expect' everyone loves a suprise.

Dr. Sallie N. Cheinsteen

Don't worry. Most of us, like me, will still love your book. I DO like particular genres better than others, but that doesn't mean I'm bound to those genres. For books, movies, and plays, I often like to go into them knowing nothing at all, so I can be 100 percent surprised. When I pick up a book, I hardly ever read the back cover that gives the description of the story so that the book is a new experience all the way. So if this book is a new category all together, it will just be another new experience that I will fall in love with, I'm sure.


Well, I'm not a big sci-fi fan, so whenever I see a book labeled science fiction, I usually avoid it. But when someone tells me that they really really liked a sci-fi book, then I might pick it up. Or if it didn't have a label, I might have read it.

So that's basically how genres hinder my reading experience.


I am a Reader not an Author, and I can't wait to read this book. I'm going to use it for my online book club (which means I'll get it back with all the ladies comments written in the margins. Love that! Books & scriptures are so much more interesting when they've been defaced with thoughts/impressions/questions in the extra space...) I have an idea of what this book will be, and I'm interested to see how wrong I am. Will there be aliens?

Just kidding.


I honestly never even thought about the genre of books that I liked to read (still don't, really). Now that I look back at my favourites, I realize that I loved anything with a hint of fantasy. I think I just naturally gravitated toward those types of stories, but if you had asked be back then, I would never have proclaimed myself a fan of the genre. Even so, I have favourites in various categories. It's great that you're writing in different genres. It stretches you as a writer, don't you think? I'm looking forward to reading this new one of yours too!


I do tend to lean towards genres of Fantasy, but I also look to any book that looks interesting.
Or say, is by my favorite author :)
(that's you)


Here's another thought. My husband and I often love indie movies, which often don't follow Hollywood genres and formulas at all. The downside is the risk of confusion. Often I spend the first fifteen minutes or more of an independent film just trying to figure out who everybody is and what's going on! And I consider myself a smart person!

On the other hand, with a formula like a chick flick you quickly identify the two leads and the supporting characters and relax into finding out how they get together. I get very tired of formulas, but to branch out you have to be ready for feeling less settled.

For me, reading The Actor and the Housewife was a little like that: I loved it, but the initial period of settling into the book took longer than it would for one with a more absolute genre. I want to reread it, as someone was saying about The King of Attolia, now that I know what to expect, because I think I will enjoy it more.

A lack of genre or formula, while refreshing, does have the downside of upsetting the reading experience just a little. I love feeling surprised and delighted by it, though, and it makes the experience more memorable in the end. ;)


I just want to read the book!


I'm with Kyle! :D

I guess genres are helpful when you're searching for a particular kind of book, but I like books that are 'genre-less.' It's a refreshing change, and I'm all about shaking up the reading experience.


Shannon my name is Ellie and I'm one of your biggest fans! reading this blog helped me to imagine what it would be like to be an author... so thanks i guess. Also i think the best part of books is the part left to the imagination, s oits perfect that it doesn't have a genre. this book creates its own genre the - fantasticly dramatic comical story-like fiction the could maybe possibly happen one day.


I loved The Actor and the Housewife. I so wanted them to be together. In the sequel, I believe there is a chance that their love can grow and morph into romantic love. What do you think Shannon Hale?

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