What’s your genre?

From 2pm PDT, which translates to 5am tomorrow morning in Perth time, I will be reading from ‘The Lion’ as part of Pulp Literature‘s Issue 27 launch. You are invited to join the virtual launch live for readings, giveaways, and the announcement of this year’s Hummingbird Prize-winning story [aside: one of my stories is on the shortlist!].

I was drawn to Pulp Literature because its stories are varied and compelling, and its editors embrace those who write across genres. For you to begin to understand the significance this holds for me, I invite you to stroll a segment of my memory lane…

The year is 2014 and I am at the Scarlet Stiletto Awards for crime and mystery fiction. I chat to the writers around my table, giddy off the fact that one of my stories is a finalist for the shiny red shoe.

After discovering I’ve had other stories published, one of the organisers asks how long I have been writing crime. I confess this is my first and only piece of crime fiction.

‘Oh,’ she says. ‘So you haven’t chosen a genre yet.’

I smile but find her conversation-closer confronting. This is the first time someone has suggested such a notion to me. Should I have ignored my story, or wrangled it into some other shape? And when was I supposed to have made the decision to focus on a singular genre or style? Her words make no sense to me. Because I don’t choose my stories: they choose me.

“People think we choose the genre first every time, and it’s not true. We find the stories first. The notion of alienation from your hometown taken to its literal conclusion was how we got to science fiction.”

— Simon Pegg, speaking about The World’s End

In writing my first piece of crime fiction, I intended to write crime no more than I intended to produce speculative horror with ‘The Unknown’, fabulism with ‘The Man with the Purple Halo’, or contemporary realism with ‘Guns and Honey’. Each time, I just wrote the story.

Our fictions are bigger than us. They tell truths that often can not be faced directly — truths evident to particular readers, of which even we, as writers, may not be immediately aware. Considering the weight of a story, perhaps it is arrogant to think that a story chooses a writer, or that a writer should accept a story as it comes. But possessing the conviction that the unique products of any labour should be shared is a kind of arrogance, isn’t it? Or maybe this is simply the definition of worth.

I am ever grateful to those who read for story. Invariably they are the same ones holding space for the multigenred rogue.

[Feature image: Sisters in Crime, 2014]

1 Comment

  1. Congratulations Hannah !!!!! I’m thrilled for you!

    I’m sending off for a hard copy because I want to know more about Pulp Fiction.

    Hope you’re well… I’m sure you’re happy .

    w xxx



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