Andrea Lechner-Becker writes about a genre of novel you may not have heard of.
THE GENRE OF MY WIP: MAGICAL REALISM by ANDREA LECHNER-BECKER
Siren is the working title of my next full-length novel. It’s a modern (1980s) retelling of the myth of the sirens, birdlike creatures who lure sailors to their deaths with bewitching song.
What I’ve Learned About Genres
Sixty Days Left was my first novel. My barebones knowledge of genres before publishing came mostly from movie genres.
I understood that there were science fiction books and chick lit and of course the popularity of YA (Harry Potter, Twilight, etc.) But, as it turns out, the genre of your book is very important, not only from a categorization for Barnes and Noble bookshelves, but for marketing and even for how well-received your book will be. If you market a book as romance, but the two main characters (MCs) don’t end up together, the Romance Readers Association of America will hunt you down, burn all your books and then your home. Kidding. But seriously, people will get pissed. Avid readers of certain genres are experts and they know what to expect.
If you write sci-fi and do a shitty job at world building or the rules of your version of space shift, look out. There will be hell to pay.
And of course, the biggest impact of genre selection is on marketing and sales. You tell distributors what kind of book you wrote based on the genre you select and its keywords. I don’t know what the hell I did to get Sixty Days Left marked as a “textbook” by Amazon, but whatever.
When you go out looking for book bloggers, the lists all specify what genre they’ll read. And that’s a micro version of what’s happening everywhere in the world. Most people only read certain types of books, so if you pick an obscure genre, your audience will be small. However, something can be said for a niche. My man Gabriel Garcia Marquez made the genre of magical realism his bitch.
What is Magical Realism?
I was literally driven to a nap after reading Wikipedia’s definition of the genre. Some very smart, very boringly academic person wrote it.
THE GREAT-GRAND ANDREA LECHNER-BECKER DEFINITION OF MAGICAL REALISM
Magical Realism is a realistic world, you know like planet Earth, where the laws of physics and whatnot are all exactly like they are here, but THEEEEEEEEEN, Magic.
But, not only does magic exist, any magical elements are NOT explained with science … they just are. So, in the case of how Siren is able to lure men to do something by song, it doesn’t matter bro. With Magic Realism, you, as a reader, you just come along on the ride and don’t question why or how, just like you don’t ask an author to explain why the sky is blue. You just read and go, “Okay.”
But these are the easiest pieces of the genre to explain. More than these, the genre, which has been dominated by Latin American authors speaks to a sense of truth that can only be accessed by the non-elite through a rules change, i.e. magic. That concept is at the crux of this Tweet…
The constants of our world have rigged it for the benefit of the same group of last names that have ruled for ages. As such, the Magical Realism genre is dominated by those from less fortune backgrounds and countries. The question has even been raised if someone from America can write in this genre, given our innate prosperity.
I had a debate about something similar on Reddit about a month ago. The question was asked if a white man could write a book with African American characters and use the “N” word in their dialogue. My opinion was, “Of course.” It didn’t make sense to me to write characters where there are certain things THEY can’t say, because the AUTHOR couldn’t say them in real life. I argued that one of the most important qualities for writers is empathy. Unless one only writes memoirs, it’s going to be imperative to write from someone NOT YOU’s perspective.
So, with that mentality, my Native American main character, Siren, is the perfect fit for a Magical Realism genre. As a Native American, the cards are stacked against her. She’s going to need a little bit of magic to level the playing field.
Contributed by Andrea Lechner-Becker