From Fantasy to Reality

hanna-sweater-200~ By Hanna Martine

When I first starting writing with the serious intent to publish, I wanted to be an epic fantasy author. You know, those books you couldn’t hold in one hand and needed to lift weights in order to carry out of the book store (ah, thank gawd for e-books)? Those books with all the names with apostrophes and bearded wizards?

Then I was introduced to Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series, and from there to paranormal romance. Romance! This was the genre of my writing heart. A genre in which I could make a female character as prominent as a male, and still have a bunch of magic. A genre in which I could make the love story the most important part. And most important: a genre in which I didn’t have to close the door during sex! (Writing sex, I mean. Ahem.)

So I wrote a couple of paranormal romance novels and got them published, and there was great rejoice. Until I realized that I really, really wanted to write contemporary romance, too. I came up with what I thought was a unique setting and spin on the sub-genre, and whipped up a proposal.

I remember my agent and editor being a little surprised that I wanted to switch genres, because I do have a distinct paranormal voice. But I also knew that I was fully capable of moving from dark and serious paranormal to fun and flirty and sexy contemporary.

Writing my contemporary novels has been exhilarating. Cathartic, even. I love alternating between the two styles. I love just letting my personal, wacky, inner voice flow out onto the page when I write contemporary. It’s much more conversational and funny, and it feels like I’m a stenographer, capturing a scene that could happen in the apartment next door. I silence my inner editor when I write modern-day dialogue. It’s a completely different process for me, not having to consider elaborate world-building or magic rules. Examining humanity’s basic emotions and relying on personal interaction is the core of contemporary romance writing, and it’s as refreshing to write as it is to read.

Some advice about writing in more than one romance sub-genre:

  1. Find your voice for each sub-genre. (“But!” you say. “I just spent years and years honing my voice for this sub-genre! And now I have to come up with a whole new one?” My answer is…yes. I believe you do. Two different kinds of books, two different audiences. See below.)
  2. Consider whether or not to change your name. (My publisher didn’t think changing my name was necessary, so I kept both paranormal and contemporary under the Hanna Martine name. I thought my readership would automatically cross over. In retrospect that was short-sighted, but I’ve gained a different set of readers and that is totally fine with me. Now I’m 100% fine with the shared name. It’s all me.)
  3. OWN YOUR AWESOME WORK. Own it, baby! Be confident and fearless as you branch out. No one knows your writing and your abilities as well as you. If someone gives you a weird look about publishing something totally different than what you’ve already got out, lift your chin and wave your beautiful words in front of their eyes. And then smile and say, “Why don’t you give it read?”
  4. And this might be a little controversial, but consider whether or not switching genres will be good for your “brand” or dilute it…and then tuck that thought away where it won’t bug you again and just write what’s in your heart.

Hanna Martine writes the contemporary Highland Games series—LONG SHOT, October 2013; THE GOOD CHASE, December 2014—and the Elementals paranormal series. She left a decade of office work in order to show her daughter what it means to go after your dream. She loves bar stools, the imaginary world, travel and her friends. Though she and her family live outside Chicago, her heart resides in Australia.

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6 thoughts on “From Fantasy to Reality”

  1. I’d read anything you wrote, no matter the genre, because you’re a gifted storyteller and writer, full stop. I’m usually a little baffled when people want to restrict writers to a single genre because for me, the way the author crafts the story is what hooks me and if I love that, then I love them, no matter what hat they’re wearing 🙂

  2. Hi, Hanna! I do several genres too: romantic suspense with comedy; short romantic comedy; sensual romance. The link is the humor and yes, there are moments in the sensual romance.

    I didn’t change my name for any. My last name is a grabber.

  3. Writers are creative people so their need to adapt and change and flex their imaginations should not be limited by the economics of the time, although sadly, the need to eat can impact our decisions. Congrats on successfully crossing genres!

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