I was on a panel at the Mission Branch Library last Saturday. Our RWA (Romance Writers of America) chapter is doing a series of four talks called “Amore and More.” The topic of our talk was “Discovering Your Niche.” Aside from the fact that I didn’t remember to promote it on my FaceBook page, it went very well. We had four articulate authors (Amy Bright, Lisa Cotrell-Bentley, Lorelie Brown, et moi) who all write in different sub-genres and we all came to find our places in the writing universe by different routes.
Amy Bright, like me, started out as a literary snob (her words, not mine) but came to understand that the romance genre can boast of some of the most highly educated readers and authors and some of the wittiest dialogue out there. She loves research, which is good because she writes in the Regency period, which has some of the most devoted (and knowledgeable) fans.
Lisa Cotrell-Bentley has been interviewed in this blog and she publishes and writes chapter books for (and featuring) home-schooled kids.
Lorelie Brown understands the practicalities of marketing, but likes to buck the trends. Her first book, Jazz Baby, is a historical set in the 1920s during Prohibition. Her next (coming later this year) is a western called Catch Me.
And then there was me, Frankie Robertson, writing in the paranormal sub-genre. Paranormal romance has a broad definition. It includes stories about vampires, shape-shifters, ghosts, psychics, witches, fairies, time-travelers, demons, angels, and aliens. Usually one or both of the protagonists are “different,” the romance is essential to the plot, and of course there has to be a happy ending.
As all of the speakers remarked in one way or another, finding your niche can be journey of self-discovery. It may take several tries before you find the best fit for you. The standard advice is to write what you read, but when you read widely, as I do, that advice can lead to quite a trip. I’ve written fantasy, horror, erotic historical fantasy, romantic suspense, and contemporary paranormal romance. And while it’s easier to advance your career when you stick to one path (or so the conventional wisdom says) my favorites are romantic fantasy and modern day paranormal.
But whatever I write, I like to put Romance, Mystery, and Magic in my stories.