I’ve been struggling with this genre stuff, unsure where my current WIP fits. It started as a crime novel with some romance thrown in (I’m a sucker for romance), then morphed into a love story with some crime. It’s also partly-based on a true story. On which shelf in the book shop will my cherished reader find it?
My first novel (yet to be discovered by a discerning agent and/or publisher) was historical fiction and I linked up with the Irish branch of the Historical Novel Society (HNS) as a result. That was during Covid when all in-person meetings were off. Let’s hope we can continue to refer to ‘Covid lockdown’ in the past tense, whatever new variants come our way.
Normally, the HNS meets every quarter, and it was finally able to hold its first physical gathering for two years in June 2022. It was a first for me, too, and I was thrilled to meet eighteen writers and have a lovely lunch in the Hilton Garden Inn Hotel on Custom House Quay, in Dublin. Some people had come from Britain – and Italy! – for the occasion.
The chat was mighty, the folk lovely. It was super to hear of other writers’ publishing experience, as well as their delights and struggles with getting that book out. We talked of research, and travel. Most people at my end of the long lunch table had lived, or were living, abroad. This surprised me, which I found interesting. Did I think I was only person who had worked outside of Ireland? With our emigration history? Duh.
It shows that the nature of Irish emigration has changed – it’s not just about politics and poverty, the Wild Geese and the Famine. Yes, we’ve had economically difficult periods recently, too, the death of the Celtic Tiger being one of them. But Irish people go abroad for the social and cultural experience, for variety, out of curiosity, as I did. I think no matter how successful and wealthy the country becomes – and it is both – some of us will always have itchy feet and will want to see the world. It has been forever thus, whether it was Brendan the Navigator or Norah Patten (possible first Irish astronaut).
I’m getting to the point! When I spoke to my companions about my book and its genre, one of them said the magic words, Romantic Suspense. Hallelujah! There is a genre, waiting for me. I was astonished I hadn’t known about it until I realised, in fact, I had. In February this year, I had written a note that I thought my novel was in the same ballpark as Mary Stewart, one of my favourite authors in my teens. Lo and behold, she is known as the Queen of Romantic Suspense.
So, I needn’t be shy about saying, ‘fans of Mary Stewart will like this story.’ It’s daft, but finding my publishing category is reassuring and has dispelled a certain anxiety I had. Thanks to the great writing network out there!
(c) Audrey Mac Cready