Monday, August 29, 2011

New Adult or Cross-Genre?

Once again, I am giving thought to genre. When I start writing a story, the last thing I’m thinking of is what genre will this fit into, or how I can make it fit into any particular genre at all—let alone how I plan to market it. I simply write a story as it unfolds before me. Often, I’m not even sure just exactly how it will develop, or what character may enter and take center stage. This leaves me with a dilemma in the end, when I get ready to submit or query the completed novel

Story for a Shipwright has a strong Women’s fiction appeal, yet it is primarily written in first person from a male POV—a sensitive and insightful point of view, at that. Shouldn’t such a novel have a more universal appeal? In the end, I submitted Story for a Shipwright as Literary/General/Commercial fiction. (Don’t even get me going on the ambiguity of all those terms!)

Currently, I’m polishing a new (rewrite of an old) story. The protagonist is a 17 year-old girl, delivered in close third person. Large portions are from two different male points of view—one 27 year-old and the other 52. There are some high-schooly scenes, but the plot revolves around adult situations and issues. It doesn’t feel like Young Adult to me, though it doesn’t entirely feel like Women’s fiction, either. Then there is that relatively new genre, New Adult...hmmm. Perhaps Portrait of a Girl Running and the sequel Portrait of a Protégé can find a home there...must do further research...

Anyone familiar with New Adult literature or have an opinion on the marketability of cross-genre novels?

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pushing Boundaries & Fiduciary Relationships

Fiduciary Relationship—that is, a relationship based on an inherent trust or trustworthiness. I first came across that term while doing research for GIRL RUNNING and PORTRAIT OF A PROTEGE. I found it in the article Sexualization* of the doctor–patient relationship: is it ever ethically permissible? by Katherine H Hall. While these two stories do touch briefly on Doctor-Patient ethics, I was more interested in Teacher-Student relationships, and I believe many of the principles cited in Hall’s article apply.

The fiduciary relationship is based on trust, wherein one party has greater power and thus control. Granted, many relationships incorporate a fiduciary element. I maintain that a healthy relationship distributes such power, contingent upon the assets each party brings to the table; that power is ever shifting. Oftentimes, principles of the fiduciary relationship are manifest when one party is significantly older than the other, though it surely holds true in other ways—such as when it comes to the intellectual, financial and social status of each party.

In my novel, GIRL RUNNING, I’ve chosen to explore the Teacher-Student relationship, particularly wherein pre-existing contact—outside of school—levels the playing field (a bit).

GIRL RUNNING explores the emotionally intense relationship between 17 year-old, orphaned and unsupervised Leila and her math teacher from hell, alongside, and often at conflict with, a blossoming romantic relationship with the track coach.

The author of the above-mentioned article concludes: “…[sexualized] relationships with former patients should not be regarded as ethically permissible except under such rare circumstances.” I believe the same holds true for Teacher-Student relationships. And so, I have attempted to explore that “rare circumstance.”

What do you think? Can such ‘unequal’ relationships succeed, long-term?

* just to clarity, neither of my stories contain sex between a student and teacher.