Have you ever looked at someone and made some judgments about them? What I mean is, based on their clothing, haircuts, and other visual cues, did you decide that they listen to a certain type of music? Or prefer a particular cuisine? Or read certain books?
I’m sure sometimes you’re right. But I’m sure sometimes you’d be surprised.
For example, to look at me now, you’d probably never guess that I was a metal head in high school. Yup, it was Def Leppard, Motely Crue, Judas Priest, and Scorpion for me. But here’s the thing: I also listened to the Bee Gees, ABBA, Duran Duran, Billy Idol, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Neil Diamond, the Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Buddy Holly, The Clash, The Everly Brothers, Ella Fitzgerald, Eric Clapton, Cher, etc., etc. And later on, I listened to Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, and Green Day, while also listening to Snap, Black Box, and Alanis Morissette.
And to see me today, in my low-key work wardrobe, my hair mid-length, often pulled back, you’d never think that I sing along to…well, all sorts of stuff. In other words, to look at me, you don’t instantly know me.
And I think that’s true of many people. We’re too quick to judge.
People are sometimes a little surprised that I write about vampires. Why? I don’t know, maybe I don’t dress goth enough. Or maybe my complexion is too “warm.” Or maybe I’m too mild mannered and seemingly better suited to a sweet romance. I do, in fact, write romance. And erotica.
There seems to be this notion that writers must stay within one genre or risk alienating their readers. In the larger publishing world, it’s been historically true that publishers didn’t like it when writers tried to stray from their designated playground, and it was often difficult for writers to get published in a different genre unless they used a different name. It had to do with audience and perception. While this still remains true, it’s loosening up a bit. Yet writers still feel the need to have multiple pen names in order to write in different genres.
But just as writers can write a variety of things, readers can read a variety of things. And it’s okay. As a writer, don’t feel that you need to rein in your talent to please a particular readership. And if you’re a reader, don’t feel that you’re betraying your favorite authors by reading something else.
Whether you’re a writer or reader, or both, I encourage you to expand your horizons.