Being a writer in constant search for her genre where I write most expressively, I have often been interested in how did best selling authors know which genre would work for them. Did Jeffrey Archer wake up one morning and decide to write fiction? Did JK Rowling pen down a drowsy biography before coming up with her masterpiece?
This question must have haunted them as it haunts me. What is even more interesting though, is that once an author has established himself in a particular genre, is he able to ever break out of it and try a new genre? Take for example Jeffrey Archer himself. What do you want when you are one of the most celebrated fiction writers of all time? He took a risk and wrote ‘Paths of Glory’, mostly based on real events around the life of George Mallory. The risk paid off, the book turned out as much a page turner as the others. This transition hasn’t been easy for all though. Equally famous writer, John Grisham tried his hand at fact in the book ‘The Innocent Man’. Though a compelling story, the book was too leading and having read the first chapter, it was easy to guess where it is headed. Take for example the factual writing of William Dalrymple. Based on real events, he has the flair of weaving a tale so intriguing that it makes history lessons interesting.
The one person in my opinion who manages to blur the lines between fact and fiction is Dan Brown in ‘The Da Vinci Code’. He took facts and then he put in a dollop of his imagination and skilfully stirred the two together in such a way that the reader never knew where fact ended and fiction started.
So the question remains. How does an author find his genre? And having found it, is it wise to experiment outside of it? Do you know any other person whom it worked for?