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Friday, 17 May 2019

✉ The Benefits of Writing in Different Genres - Jeff Bond

Today author takes over our blog to tell us about the benefits of writing in different genres.  His latest novel is Blackquest 40 (, Jeff Bond, 350 pages), a tech thriller.

"Bond weaves an entertaining story filled with deceit, robots, Russians, and tech entrepreneurs that all combine to give the reader a reason to flip pages furiously to find out what might happen next...BLACKQUEST 40 sparkles with imagination. Code flies from keyboards, setting off ingenious flying devices, hatching plots and subplots and, ultimately, giving heroes the chance to help the good guys win. This book is a delight, and one readers should download right away." — IndieReader's 5 star review

|| Synopsis || Teaser: KCR Preview || Author Guest Post || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||

The Benefits of Writing in Different Genres

      I used to hear the advice that writers should stick to a single genre so as not to confuse their readership, but nowadays — with the rise of ebooks and more nimble publishing, and James Patterson invading a new section of your bookstore every month — the old guidance seems dead.

      And that’s good.  As an author, I’ve benefited greatly from stretching myself into new genres.  My debut, The Winner Maker, is a contemporary adult thriller that’s on the literary/upmarket side of the category, along the lines of Gone Girl.  It contains some action scenes — particularly once the cards start flipping over — but characters are the heartbeat of the story, and so many scenes are more domestic: spouses in conflict, friends hiding secrets from one another, past traumas gaining new significance in retrospect.

      For a follow-up, I had the idea to write a more go-go thriller called Blackquest 40, whose tagline goes something like “Die Hard at a San Francisco software company.”  This story runs much heavier on fights, chase scenes, spectacularly close calls in office HVAC ducts, et cetera.

      Still, the character elements are what separate a mediocre thriller from one that shines.  If you’re not invested in your action hero, it’ll feel like you’re reading souped-up furniture assembly instructions.  The experience of crafting complex characters in Winner — characters who fit high school stereotypes only superficially, hiding deeper inner motivations — definitely informed the character I chose to be the Bruce Willis of Blackquest: Deb Bollinger, a twenty-seven-year-old robotics and engineering savant who cares more about her side project — Carebnb, an app that finds spare beds for the homeless — than her job at Codewise Solutions.

      In upcoming work, I’m stratifying even more.  I’ve published a slice-of-life short story called The Cleaner, which is yet further on the literary end of the spectrum from Winner.  It tells the story of a housecleaner working for a modern, busy family, who must decide whether to intervene in a potential domestic crisis between the kids and parents.  It has drama…but the sort arising from sideways glances and envelopes sticking out of drawers, not roundhouse kicks and murder.  It leads into a series I’m calling Franklin, for the fictional city where I’ll be setting stories concerned with themes like class, marriage, parenting, and ambition.

      At the same time, I’m developing an all-out pulp series called Third Chance Stories.  These are big, fun, fast yarns in the spirit of Indiana Jones.  They’re wilder and more breakneck than Blackquest 40.  I’m planning to release four at once: Anarchy of the Mice, The Begonia Killer, Astroplane, and Dear Durwood.  (If the titles alone don’t give you enough sense for the series, check out

      I believe working on The Cleaner at the same time as these more propulsive stories has improved my work across the board.  The Third Chance stories have three very different, very unique heroes — and getting all their voices and minutiae just right benefited greatly from the deep character dives I was doing to portray Franklin’s domestic intrigues.

      Likewise, whenever there is a moment of high action in those quieter stories — a punch or hiding-in-closet at the climax — the techniques I’ve practiced in writing my more genre-focused stories come in handy.  I have a better feel for drawing out and heightening tension, for ensuring that in each and every scene, the protagonist has a clear goal and significant obstacles to that goal — even if that goal and those obstacles are more subtle, personal fulfillment versus societal norms, instead of a gold chalice versus armed thugs.

Molly McGill
      Taking our genre-branching even a step further — one of the Third Chance sub-series (each hero gets her/his own) is aimed at the romantic suspense category.  I’m hoping to introduce my work to the huge pool of traditional-romance readers, and I think I’ve got a great character to try it with.  To prepare myself to write The Begonia Killer, McGill Investigators #1, I’ve read widely in the genre: Nora Roberts, Robyn Carr, Pamela Clare, Diana Gabaldon.  I covered nonfiction sources as well, writers who’ve studied the genre and analyzed its structures, common beats, and reader expectations.

      All this has — I humbly hope — put me in position to write a solid romantic suspense title.  What I didn’t necessarily expect was how much the preparation would influence my other works.  Almost all fiction contains some relationship element.  Even if it’s not the dominant thread, as an author, you want that element to make the greatest possible impact on readers.  Who understands better than romance folks how to guide a reader through two characters’ coming together—the spark, the doubts, the “hole in heart” to be overcome, and finally the payoff?  I’ve found myself weaving this roadmap into one key dynamic of Blackquest 40, my other Third Chance stories, and a political thriller I’m finishing up called The Pinebox Vendetta.

      And we’re not done.  We still need to talk about kids’ books!

      Children are important in many of my stories.  The husband and wife at the center of Winner have four- and one-year-old daughters.  Mischievous elementary schoolers are behind the potential calamity in The Cleaner.  Although I’m a parent myself — in fact, the primary caregiver for nine- and seven-year-old girls — I never expected to write a children’s book.  As I finished The Cleaner, though, I realized I’d stumbled onto some interesting juvenile characters and found a theme that lent itself to generating some great plots: modern, busy parents who cut corners and live on the ragged edge, combined with a fifth grader with worries beyond his years.  The result has been a middle grade manuscript called The Little Brother War, which I’m drafting this spring.

      The experience of devoting a whole manuscript to the child’s point of view has deepened my appreciation for their thought processes.  Kids can be tricky to write—they aren’t simplistic, but they’re likely to express thoughts and emotions with less nuance than adult characters.  Putting my characters through tough situations in Little Brother, I felt like many kid truths came into focus—things I’d maybe known in my capacity as a parent, but not yet internalized into my writing.

      Had enough?  Shall we talk about sci-fi now?

      No, no — that’s a joke.  Maybe next time.

      Until then, what do you think about authors blurring or crossing genre lines?  How do you feel when a writer you love steps outside their comfort zone?  Do you crack open the new stuff with glee?  Or worry you’ll miss that reliable experience—that the writer is somehow breaking your unwritten contract?

Blackquest 40
Available NOW!

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CMash said...

Great post!

Jeff Bond said...

Thanks for featuring Blackquest 40 and hosting my article, I appreciate it!