When Ella Drake discussed genre hopping authors who switch between writing science fiction and fantasy or romance and mystery, the hop from writing adult fiction (rated X, XXX, or TV-MA) to writing young adult (YA) novels came up in the comments.
I think we can all agree that a hop from writing alien BDSM to writing “Goodnight, Little Alien” would require at least a pen name and a separate website. No parent wants their child to accidentally discover the joys of spanking scantily-clad heroines with a three-pronged… er… whip. And anyone looking for “50 Shades of Green Skin” is interested in an entirely different type of bedtime story.
But what happens when your adult books are mistaken for YA? This is not a deliberate genre hop, but one thrust upon you by an incorrect customer or well-intentioned friend.
For some reason, a lot of people assume that science fiction is only for young men. “I’ll tell my son about it.” Or they find out that that it’s “cyberpunk” with video games and computers, so it must be for kids, right? Never mind all of the adults (including my 41-year-old self) who play video games, or the fact that the Stellarnet Series is set fifty years in the future — when our kids are all grown up, and still playing video games.
Or maybe they assume, because I’m a frumpy old lady with two kids, that I couldn’t possibly be writing violent or sexy stuff? Or using language that would make an Irish sailor blush?
One of my doctors told me how he’d shared my book with someone interested in becoming a sci-fi author. The conversation went on for about ten or fifteen minutes, throughout the appointment, before I realized A) my dear doctor hadn’t read my first book, and B) the aspiring author was only 15. I warned the doc he might not want to go on recommending it to anyone else under the age of 18. Or 21, if he wants to be totally safe.
Have you ever had this happen? As an author, how have you dealt with or avoided misconceptions? As a reader, have you ever picked up a book and found yourself “boldly going” where you REALLY didn’t want to go? What do you think would make it easier to avoid this problem?
I don’t have a hard time telling close friends that my books aren’t for children — and if they’re close friends they probably guessed that already! But doctors, colleagues, club members, or potential readers I meet at conventions and events? “It’s a book with adult themes,” is what I often say, but then my warning is either ignored — “Oh, my daughter is very mature for 13” — or misunderstood — “I don’t read erotica.” What’s an author do to?
J.L. Hilton is the author of the Stellarnet Series published by Carina Press, including Stellarnet Rebel (January 2012) and Stellarnet Prince (November 2012). Her artwork is featured in the books Steampunk Style Jewelry and 1000 Steampunk Creations. Visit her at JLHilton.com or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and deviantART.