As with the old hippie salutation, “What’s your Sign?” this question is not as straightforward as it looks.
In Western astrology, a horoscope may be complicated by a birth on the “cusp” (like mine). Furthermore, you have to account for the sway exerted by the moon and any stray planets that are hanging around.
But that’s only one system of star-gazing in a world where people have been staring at the sky on clear nights and joining up the dots every-which-way for millennia. What if you also factor in Chinese reckoning, Hindu astrology, and the Mayan calendar?
You might wind up with a work of genre fiction, that’s what.
As genre fiction goes, Irish Firebrands is über-formulaic, in as much as it involves, to varying degrees, four of the five sources of conflict: Man versus Self, Man versus Fate, Man versus Nature, and Man versus Man. (The only conflict that doesn’t happen is Man versus Technology.)*
But in what genre does all this conflict occur? Since the story takes place in 2007-2008 and all but one of the most important characters are in their late-40s to early-60s, that puts the book in the category of “Boomer Lit.”
But exactly what genre is it? Inquiring minds want to know!
Writers seem to be expected to pinpoint their genres. Agents and publishers state their genre preferences in an effort to prevent their desk tops from morphing into The Slush Pile that Ate Manhattan, and indie authors need to supply a genre for their self-published tomes to be listed appropriately by distributors.
But rather than playing a simple game of “Animal, Vegetable or Mineral?” Irish Firebrands engages in the dodgy pastime of “crossing genre lines.” At last count, there were a half-dozen.
The basic story line is “Boy Meets Girl,” which is one of the Big Three plots (the other two being, “The Little Tailor” and “Gains the World but Loses His Own Soul”). That makes the book a romance, because developing a love relationship is its main focus.
Now the fun begins.
Irish Firebrands tells a love story, but unlike simple storytelling (which just relates observable goings-on – as in, “See Dick run. Run, Dick, run!”), the reader is also privy to the often pathological thought processes of the two point-of-view characters. This makes it psychological fiction.
The behavioral psychology of the main characters is bound up with their religious experiences, making Irish Firebrands inspirational fiction.
The main and secondary characters are also larger-than-life personalities with mysterious pasts. This makes their story a melodrama.
Finally, there’s also something … strange … about the setting – a down-at-the-heels Irish farmhouse – that makes what would normally just be an inanimate object in the landscape, emerge from the background like a character with its own personality and back-story. This infuses the novel with a paranormal motif.
This means Irish Firebrands is a Boomer Lit Romantic Inspirational Paranormal Psychological Melodrama.
So, what’s your genre?
* The protagonist of Irish Firebrands is a middle-aged woman, but I’m one of the old-school types who likes the simplicity of the ancient usage of employing the word “man” in the neuter sense when making generalizations. A pox on political correctness.
(Art by knightstone, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.)