Tag Archives: fantasy


I’ve been a bit quiet lately for a reason: I’ve been gearing up for the re-release of my book, From Light to Dark!

This Halloween, get your romantic fantasy fix!

(cover artist Justin Togail)

Current Trends in SF/F/H

At my most recent Writing Popular Fiction residency, I took a class about current trends in the science fiction, fantasy, and horror genres. We were lucky enough to have award-winning thriller writer Jonathan Maberry visit us to discuss his view on these topics, and the class turned into a fun exercise in analyzing the changing interests of readers.

While, of course, marketing trends are constantly in flux and subject to change at any moment (like, as soon as I hit Publish on this blog 😉 ), I think it’s fascinating to take a look at what is “cool” right now in fiction.

Here are some of the main points I wrote down from my notes. Readers and writers, would you agree? Is anything mislabeled? Missing altogether? What do you like to read in these genres?

What’s Hot

  • Zombies
  • Bio
  • …punk (steam, bio, diesel, etc.)
  • Dystopian
  • Vampires
  • Werecreatures
  • Urban Fantasy
  • YA SF/F/H

What’s Not

  • Classic science fiction
  • Epic fantasies
  • Sword and Sorcery (this led to debate)

How many genres can you list?

The other day I was talking about genres, and someone mentioned chicklit and urban fantasy. This got me thinking about the way we group our fiction and how these groups evolve over time — they sometimes even blend with one another. I normally think of genres as having “parent” categories with related subgenres within those larger groups. Maybe I just like to be over-organized.  🙂

For example:

Parent Genres

Science Fiction

Chicklit would likely fall under the Romance parent category, and Urban Fantasy would fall under Fantasy. Pretty easy.

But are there other parent categories? Is Thriller its own genre, or would you put that under Mystery – or Horror? Are Fantasy, SciFi, and Horror all part of a larger group that would technically make them subgenres, and smaller categories within those sub-subgenres?

It can get a bit complicated, especially when we look at a story that seems to blend several genres at once. Does this count as a “cross-over” story – and, if so, is that a genre of its own? – or does it fall primarily into one genre and simply dip into others for fun?

How many genres and subgenres and sub-subgenres can we come up with?  🙂

Genre Fiction = Trash?

Have you ever met someone who insisted, “I just don’t like to read”? This kind of thing blows my mind. Who doesn’t enjoy a good story once in a while?

In my opinion there is probably at least one of two problems at hand when someone says that reading isn’t fun:

  1. That person has only been introduced to school reading, which they believe must be boring on principle, and is often more “literary” than “genre.”
  2. That person may have difficulty visualizing what he or she sees in printed words.

I’ll probably address problem #2 another time. Today I’m thinking more about #1.

There are plenty of literary classics and short stories that have lots to offer in the way of entertainment and education. Some are happy, some are sad, some are serious, etc. I teach a handful of these, and I appreciate them. A few are even my favorites of all time.

For many of these titles, though, the Genre Factor is left a little cold. By this I mean that a non-reader who loves science fiction – eats up any movie about the future, watches every TV episode involving space, and has a wall covered in art depicting androids – often finds little to pique his or her interest in literature while taking a standard survey lit. class. The same goes for a fantasy fan or a mystery nut. There are a few stories here and there that break the mold, but they aren’t often the majority, and many professors choose to leave them out altogether. After all, “genre” fiction is just “trash” fiction, right?

I disagree. While I appreciate and enjoy the literary classics or mainstream stories that sometimes don’t fit into a specific genre, I also believe that they should be taught alongside quality genre fiction. This practice, I believe, may begin to dispel the incorrect assumption that all reading is dull.

In my own studies right now I’m taking two genre courses: Horror and Science Fiction. For one we’re starting with Matheson’s I Am Legend, and for the other we’re starting with Robinson’s Red Mars. Both are great reads for someone with my literary tastes.

Instead of wading through story after story that doesn’t appeal to me, I’m going to spend most of my time having fun. And, in addition to that, I’ll learn about the genres and how they have evolved over time due to various historical factors. I’ll analyze specific tropes (why do I hate this word?) that contribute to our fiction and our culture.

And, most importantly, I’ll be reading, and I’ll feel energized to read more because I enjoyed myself.

Now, I’m already a reader, so there’s no work required to persuade me to keep reading. But isn’t this exactly what many parents and educators say they want to do? Persuade kids and young adults to read more?

I say keep the literary fiction. A lot of it is great, and some readers will enjoy it most of all. But perhaps it’s a good idea to think beyond those titles as well. Throw in a little fantasy here, a little mystery there. Or perhaps give students a general sampling of everything and then let them choose which genre (or non-genre) to pursue for future readings.

My question here is this: what significant differences in quality do you see between genre fiction and literary fiction? Are those differences enough to discount the best sellers that students may love — and leave them out of general literature studies altogether?

Dead Fairies

“I found the dead fairy on our back porch during last week’s spring cleaning.”

From “An Emmet Lost,” by Irene L. Pynn

The January print edition of Golden Visions Magazine of Science Fiction & Fantasy arrived in my mailbox this week, and it contains a story I wrote called “An Emmet Lost.” If you like dead fairies, then this might be the piece of short fiction for you. 🙂 If not, there is plenty of other fantastic content to check out.

This publication is packed with original fiction, reviews, articles, and more. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys SF/F, and I’m very happy to have my work appearing in Golden Visions for a second time (the first was with a short story called “Mind Reader”).

If you get a chance to take a look, please let me know what you think!

Fiction eBook Review – From Light to Dark by Irene L. Pynn

“Irene has an excellent writing style that will draw you right into this one from the start.”
Fiction eBook Review – From Light to Dark by Irene L. Pynn

Check out this cool review of my book, From Light to Dark!

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Pets and Books

Well, the vacation at the beach is nearly over, and I’m actually a bit glad. It’s been lots of fun, but I woke up this morning half-expecting my dog to jump up on my belly and lick my face, asking to be let outside.

Then I felt homesick.

My pets amount to one dog, two cats, and two goldfish.

Our dog is a maltipoo (Maltese and toy poodle mix) named Sprocket, after a character in Fraggle Rock. He’s just under two years old, and his best friend is –

Coretta, our kitten. She’s a little calico we rescued from the streets, and the most loving animal I’ve ever met. When Sprocket goes outside, she cries as if her heart is breaking, and when he returns, she leaps on top of him – paws outstretched – to play. They’re absolutely perfect together.

Watching over them is our other cat, Othello. He looks like a miniature panther, and he can usually be found lounging on the couch or the tile floor, observing playtime between the others, once in a while even jumping into the fray himself. He’s my little soul mate from the animal kingdom, so we spend a lot of time together. Sometimes he sits on my keyboard to let me know it’s time to snuggle!

Frida and Pituka are our goldfish. Coretta loves to watch them from the floor. She looks up with calm interest and tilts her head from side to side, as if trying to understand why they’re in the water all the time.

So today, though I’m having a wonderful time getting away from it all, I’m starting to miss home a little. I’ll be happy to see my pets when I’m back!

I’m also getting ready for February, when I plan to do my own, personal NaNoWriMo. My goal will be to finish a first draft of my next novel before March. So that means I need to start plotting now!

If you have any thoughts about From Light to Dark that you’d like to share, I’m always happy to hear them.

Also, be sure to take a look at my silly meme answers to Heidi Ruby Miller’s “Pick Six” interview. You’ll get to learn all about my obsession with cartoons.