I published my first novel nearly a year ago and I’m about to publish my third. Something I’m often asked—and something I need to define as an author—is what genre I write in.
The long answer is ‘Contemporary Women’s Fiction’, but as this broad category also includes authors like Liane Moriarty and Jodi Picoult, whose books are brilliant but very different from mine, I tend to answer ‘RomCom’ or ‘Chicklit’.
RomCom is a little limiting, however, because in each of my books I delve into heartbreak, goodbyes, loss, and other harsh realities of life, like alcoholism and infidelity. The other day, Ben asked me if I was okay because I started sobbing while sitting at my computer. “I’m just writing a sad scene,” I said and he left me to it. My characters live and breathe in my head; when they’re heartbroken, so am I.
That said, I also write a lot of humour into my books. The main characters are funny women. They’re self-deprecating, smart and witty. Their inner monologues, where they ‘say’ whatever they like, are some of the funniest parts of the books.
In short, I write them to be relatable, well-rounded, flawed, and fabulous women—like your best friends, your sisters, your cousins/aunts/mums, like you.
So, is Chicklit a more apt description of the genre I write? Yes and no.
Yes, because fans of the genre know what type of book they’re getting when they buy one of mine—and it’s likely they’ll enjoy it. And I’m in good company in this genre. Take a look at the Goodreads list of most popular Chick Lit titles. You’ll notice some famous bestsellers, like Bridget Jones’s Diary and The Devil Wears Prada.
And no, because it’s (become) a loaded term. For those who don’t really know what it is, who are afraid to dip their toe in the pool, who might love my books and others that sit in this category if they actually read them, there can be the perception that Chicklit = fluffy nonsense.
This is not true.
Sure, like in any genre, books in this category span the entire spectrum from outstanding to atrocious, but the best examples of the genre are fantastic reads. And, like any genre, the lines are fluid. It includes everything from laugh-out-loud comedies (a la Bridget Jones) to heartbreaking tales like JoJo Moyes’ Me Before You.
A way I can narrow down my specific corner of the genre further, is to identify the books that would sit next to mine on the shelf, those ‘people-who-bought-this-book-also-bought…’ books.
My fave Chicklit author—the one who I want my books to sit next to the most—is Lindsey Kelk.
She’s written seven (soon to be eight) I Heart books and three Tess Brookes books, as well as several stand-alones. Her writing is fast-paced, funny, heartfelt, and relatable. She’s a full-time author and her books are sold worldwide, and I feel qualified to say this because I’ve read hundreds of Chicklit books, one of the best in the biz.
So, if I was pressed to give the Twitter pitch definition of Chicklit, I would say this:
It’s fiction about women, for women.
That would leave me 204 characters to further explain that men often read and enjoy it, and some of it is written by men, but I stand by my one-liner.
I am also trying (without a lot of traction at the moment) to get ‘travel romance’ to take off as a sub-genre: exploring the transformative effects of travel on the love-weary. But until it becomes mainstream, I’m happy to inhabit my little corner of Chicklit.