Having spent most of my life as a fanatic reader, usually reading four to six books a month, I feel like I could write books in pretty much any genre, except, perhaps, fantasy - I haven't read many of those and it's not a genre that appeals to me.
But so far, each of the novels I've written has been completely different from the others. I really don't have a genre.
As a new author, I've looked for advice from successful authors. Hugh Howey and others suggest finding that genre. You need to know what shelf your book would be found on in a bookstore. Once you know this, write several books in the genre, and readers, who tend to pick books within just a few genres, will find you. But what genre do my books fit into?
My first book, The Silicon Lathe, is a semi-autobiographical novel about the Silicon Valley. Anywhere there is a lot of money to be made, people will show their best and their worst. The Silicon Lathe tells the story of young people trying to make it. Some get rich, some fail, some are just screwed by bigger or greedier players. Since it was my first novel, I learned a lot about keeping a story together for 400 pages, but it doesn't fit easily into a definable genre.
I still haven't published Ethics, my second book - I can't quite figure out how to rewrite it to eliminate my personal risk in publishing it while preserving a tight storyline. Still, I realize that some of the characters in the book came alive for me and that I'd really like to get to know them better as they get older and their careers progress.
And as I think about The Shadow of God, I have other characters that I've really come to admire. I'd like to see what becomes of them too.
One of my favorite fun-to-read authors is John Lescroart. Most of his novels take place in San Francisco and include characters from previous novels he's written. But he changes it up. Sometimes, Dismas Hardy (#dismashardy) is the main focus. Other times, Abe Glitsky (#abeglisky) is the focus. And in still others, it can be a spouse or another lesser character that comes to the fore. Dismas Hardy, Abe Glitsky and different main characters are usually present, but as readers, we get to see the spotlight shift. Many of his books fit into an almost-series. However, ultimately, we get to know each character individually across several books as they take on different roles in each story.
So, since I like this idea of changing up characters and focus, but carrying them forward in future books, what do I have to work with from what I've already written?
I can't really come up with anything from The Silicon Lathe that I can carry forward. But in Ethics, I really like George and Janey Gray. George is a somewhat awkward young reporter for a national newspaper who tries to discover why a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, who appeared to have it all, suddenly commits suicide. His wife Janey is a genius software developer who often helps George with technology issues and keeps him on track as he pursues his investigations.
In The Shadow of God, I have Mike McKensey, San Francisco homicide detective, and May Reeves, homicide detective for Marin County. Both are somewhat jaded veterans who have survived divorces and have seen the best and the worst humanity has to offer. They start working together on a series of murders.
I also have Samantha Louis, a psychiatrist just starting out on her career who stumbles into a once-in-a-lifetime case.
And, as I look at these two books, I realize that both revolve around people who appear normal, but who have major psychological issues simmering just below the surface. In Ethics, George and Janey try to find the person who drove the entrepreneur to suicide. In The Shadow of God, Mike and May pursue a serial killer while Samantha treats a very disturbed person who may be that killer.
So, we now have characters with psychological problems/mental illness, two police detectives, a young reporter and his genius technologist wife, and a psychiatrist who's just starting out on her career. I think I see where this can go. In future novels, one or more of these characters can try to identify/help/catch the people with psychological problems. I can see the police, reporter, and psychiatrist working against each other in some situations, and working together in others.
Could be interesting. I'd really appreciate any ideas or comments you might have.
By the way, if you're interested in possibly winning a free, signed and personally dedicated copy of The Shadow of God, follow the link below to the GoodReads giveaway.