Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Easy Street Records in Seattle is closing; however it is always the Tower Books building to me. I lived and worked in the neighborhood for twenty years; Tower was one of the bookstores I'd wander through at lunch, after work, when I was bored, when I'd just fallen in or out of love... etc.

I can envision the stores: one side was non-fiction, the other fiction. The magazines and best sellers were in the front. Non-fiction categories were biography, languages, history, religion, science, travel, crafts; fiction was short stories,  mystery, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, western. I know there are many more genres; but when I imagine books, I see them in a room, with title cards above. And even though I've been a book editor for some years, I often forget how many genres and sub-genres there are.

My Kindle -- OK, Amazon -- is always suggesting titles for me to download. Right now it is Best Books of the Year. Last night it was romance novels -- and wow, I'd forgotten how many romance novel sub genres there are. Depending on where you look there are either  nine major sub-genres or forty-plus. I was surprised to find a whole Navy SEAL series listed among the Amazon titles (military sub-genre) and yes, even one I found mildly interesting -- a historical title.

My godmother subscribed to several Harlequin and Silhouette of category romances; I'd visit her and find books stacked everywhere. She read them all and part of my yearly visit was to box up the ones she'd read and take them to senior centers, the hospital gift shop, two dentist's offices... she had a regular route. Every now and then I'd read one of her books -- took all of an hour, she liked fast, light reads. I'd be cringing by page ten, but they were so easy to read.

My students had the option of writing a short western, mystery, fantasy or romance story as their final exam. We studied the formulas behind each genre and so forth. Some of the stories were quite good, but most weren't. Even with a formula it is hard to write a good story; most of my students copied something they liked. (Buffy the Vampire Slayer was big and there were a bunch of Buffy/Angel/Willow-like characters.)

Oh, and I saw a "vampire" section in the paranormal/fantasy aisle of my favorite bookstore...

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