The question has come up before about what my thoughts are about genre mixing. My novel, Still Dark, could, if you squint, be called a straight science fiction story. The elements are all there. I’ll avoid spoilers, but the threat of the novel is science-based, in a very loose sense. That said, I would never dream of labeling it as such. The tone, the feel of the thing, is all horror, straight through. It exists not to inspire dreams or to ask greater questions of the limits of humanity, but just to scare the hell out of you.
Nowadays, it’s tough to find genre work that doesn’t at least dip into another. I’m a big fan of the way that interesting sci-fi concepts can be put to use directly to scare the audience and readers. I’m sure there are purists out there that hate the idea of all those genres mixing up. I imagine they are the same types that get bent out of shape if their corn touches their mashed potatoes.
I do think there are some important things to keep in mind however. Fiction, regardless of genre, needs to stay consistent to its own internal rules and logic. If you want to write a world where robots ride dragons into battle, by all means, go for it. Honestly, I’d probably want to pick that book up if I saw it sitting on a shelf. The problem only comes not in how different the genre elements are, but in how the author eases us all into the world. If a multi-book saga of magical elves is suddenly revealed, in book 4 say, to be all part of a virtual world, well, don’t be surprised if your audience turns on you.
For myself, I’m a big fan of blending things together, especially if I know what I’m getting ahead of time. Guillermo Del Toro’s Crimson Peak was a good example of coming into a story prepared ahead of time. The movie was, without question, a gothic romance wrapped up in a lush ghost story. It was not by any means, actually scary. Knowing Del Toro, had I gone in without any idea what to expect, I might have been bummed out as I know a lot of others were. However, I read a handful of reviews and knew what I was getting into, so I came away pleased with the film.
At the end of the day, that’s what genre mixing is all about. Messing with audience expectations. With Still Dark, I was hopefully able to mess with the reader just enough to keep you off kilter. When you think you know what’s going on, it’s safe to say, you probably don’t. When done correctly, genre-mixing is a wonderful thing that will no doubt continue to evolve. I’m just looking forward to my robot dinosaur trilogy. Should be cool.
When a thunderous explosion rocks an idyllic cabin resort in the Great Smoky Mountains, animals and humans alike begin to act strange. Jim, along with his wife Laura and son, Sam, are cut off from the outside world, but they soon realize the true nightmare is just beginning…
Deep in the snow-covered woods, something is waiting. The creature calls itself Apex, and it’s a traveler. Reading the minds of those around it, Apex brings the terrifying fears hidden in the human psyche to life with a singular purpose: to kill any that stand in its way.
Locked in a fight for their lives, Jim and his family must uncover the truth behind Apex, and stop the creature from wreaking a horrifying fate upon the rest of the world!