Monday, September 28, 2009

Word on the Street

Yesterday I attended an event held in Toronto called Word on the Street which involved author readings, signings, musical performances etc. etc. This literary festival is a nice addition to the fall season. As a first-time author I headed out with my writer's bag, containing all the usual acoutrement of a hopeful tale spinner, to see what publishers were present and see a couple of talks. The publishers were just there to sell books and besides, most publishers won't deal directly with writers anymore, only agents.

I did attend one talk by a very helpful agent and a panel discussion by three fiction writers all of whom write what is called (and not in an entirely positive sense) Genre Fiction. Now, as a genre fiction writer myself, I was curious to hear what they had to say about the perceptions of genre writing today and how genre writing stands up to say, literary fiction. All three of these writers (paranormal, sci-fi, and crime/thriller) are bestsellers at home and abroad, including the New York Times list.

When asked if they thought that there was a prejudice against genre fiction the answer was yes, but that it is changing. In fact, many literary writers are dabbling in genre writing even though they might not intend it that way. These writers also said that they were not worried about genre fiction being looked down upon because, at the end of the day, they write what they love and want to write and do rather well at it. All of them were doubted by their agents or publishers at the beginning but luckily folks on the business end of things took a chance on each and it paid off for all of them.

As one audience member stated, it shouldn't be about this or that genre but rather about enjoying a good story and a good read. Heartening words and a great event for writers and readers, young and old. Good on ya, Toronto!
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