It is often suggested to new writers that they stick to one particular genre if they want to become a best-selling author. However, as I have stated before, I would rather write whatever story comes to me whether it be contemporary, BDSM, paranormal, fantasy, or sci-fi (I am highly unlikely to write a mystery, cop, horror or cowboy story but I won’t say never!).
I was looking over my book collection over Easter and it struck me that many of them were either in a particular genre (probably because I love my sci-fi but it occurred to me that I wasn’t aware if authors like Anne McCaffrey ever wrote anything other than this genre) or even set in the same world (Marion Zimmer Bradley’s many Darkover books although I am aware that she did some fantasy ones too. Fantasy, of course, is not far removed from sci-fi but, did either of these writers write any thrillers for instance??
That was when it occurred to me how boring it could have been for them to continually write the same types of story about the same world – possibly through demand from us, the reader. On the other hand it is easy – once you have built your ‘world’ you have a frame on which to set your stories, possibly even writing about characters you have already introduced.
An author often uses a different pen name when writing in a different genre and it may be that I am unaware of the other works of these particular authors. I was amused by a postcard I bought at Foyle’s bookshop in London with a picture of Enid Blyton and a caption talking about a comment name by a reviewer that she should be careful of an up and coming writer - who happens to be herself under another pen name.
And that says it all – if you use a different pen name you may get a different readership and protect your original ones from losing interest in you – but do those original readers miss out on an author’s other works?