As many of you likely know, I write romance novels under two pen names. Last week, I talked a little about how this makes for certain challenges, keeping up with marketing and publishing schedules, and more. Despite all of that, however, I still genre hop within each of the pen names, and here’s why–I can’t stop.
No, of course it goes deeper than that. I wrote under two names way back in the beginning because I wanted to establish a heat level for each of my names. Under Holland Rae, romance readers can expected to blush a little, but not be out and out scandalized by the erotic scenes within. It falls far more within the bounds of ‘traditional romance’, and though it might still be too hot for some readers, it is by no means erotic.
Under my other name, however, not only is the expected heat level significantly higher, but the books address unorthodox and supposedly ‘kinky’ subjects, exhibitionism, voyeurism, ménage relationships and BDSM. One way or the other, I am promising my readers a certain thing and I am (hopefully) delivering on that thing, or close to it. While many authors write under more than one pen name for genre I am writing under more than one pen name for heat level.
Which leaves me in a bit of a sticky situation.
I first started reading romance with historical, mostly regency, authors. I still consider Eloisa James responsible for my decision to go into writing romance, and I feel like I know historical romance particularly well as a genre. But the books come as they may, and very often I find myself looking down the barrel of a trilogy set in modern times. In fact, while I love historical romance and my first book in the Ships in the Night series, Heart and Dagger, is coming out soon, I have written far more contemporary than historical.
Still, both of my pen names run the gamut. For instance, under Holland Rae I am currently working on a Special Forces/military suspense series, which has nothing to do with pirates in the 1800s. Under my other names, my two current series are contemporary, full-length erotic romance, but my series contracted for spring release is a trilogy of historical BDSM short stories.
I will say that writing several varying genres is complicated. When folks ask my area, I’ve narrowed it down to historical and contemporary romance and erotic romance, and that’s a mouthful. My marketing has to have a vibe that fits either contemporary or historical, and I find myself doing research all the time, simply because it doesn’t carry over from one book to the next.
And yet, every time I think that I should narrow my focus, that I should figure out a theme, a brand, and stick to it, I find myself with another book on the ledge. Writers have done it before–Maya Banks, for instance, has written Highlanders, contemporary erotic romance, ménage stories, Special Forces and more, all under the same name and she’s been more than successful.
The trick, for me at least, is a consistency somewhere. I don’t get it with the genre, my devilish lords keep popping up and asking for stories, and my high-powered, modern day heroines refuse to take the back burner. But if I maintain the heat level I promised my readers and I don’t stray too far from the underlying genre, traditional romance or erotic romance, I’m doing my job and delivering what I promised.
Which is good. I enjoy writing several genres and look forward to expanding even outside romance. Genre hopping is a unique and fun challenge, and I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon. After all, there’s a lot you can do in modern day than you’d never be able to get away with in the 1800s, and vice versa. Writing historical is a different experience from writing contemporary, and I love them both equally.
What about you? Do you give authors the benefit of the doubt, when you came in for one genre and left with another? And fellow authors, do you hop around, or stick to the one genre you know better than all the rest? I look forward to reading your thoughts on genre hopping in the comment below. ♥