Do You Cross the Line? ……… by Alex Beecroft

Today’s post by Alex Beecroft is an issue I’m sure many authors have struggled with, especially if they have been around for a while and have an established fan base in a particular genre. What will their fans think, for example, if they crossed genres from writing horrors to entering the world of romance like Rick R. Reed has done? How about moving from murder/mysteries to fantasy like Josh Lanyon did a couple years ago? Or writing a historical romance set in the 1960s a year ago and a recent fantasy novel like Marie Sexton? These are just a few examples where the transition to another genre was done successfully and the author expanded his/her fan base in the process, but how many have crashed and burned? Doing this takes a lot of guts and determination and for the authors it’s probably like entering a minefield.

Alex’s new books mentioned in this post – Bomber’s Moon and Dogfighters will be released in April and May of this year and I’m looking forward to reading and maybe reviewing them since I love fantasy. Here’s Alex’s essay:


Here’s a topic that’s on my mind at the moment – crossovers and crossing genres. As an author I hold my hands up and confess to being a serial monogamist as far as inspiration goes. That means, if I’m fired by enthusiasm for the 18th Century, I’ll spend five or more years writing stories set in the 18th Century. And that’s great, isn’t it, because people will get used to the idea that if you pick up an Alex Beecroft book, it’ll be set somewhere around the 1750s and will probably involve sailing ships. I’ve got this branding thing sorted.

The trouble is that eventually my happy little butterfly of a writer’s mind decides its got all the juice out of the celandine of historical fiction, and flits off to the bluebell of fantasy instead, where it hopes to suck up enough sugar to last another half decade. But butterflies are flighty things, and who knows how long that will last before it’s off to the daisy of contemporaries or the purple flowering loosestrife of gothic murder mystery? And as if that wasn’t bad enough, who knows when it will cycle round to historical again and set in for a five book series set in the stone age?

From my point of view as an author, I love the fact that I can write about what takes my fancy at any time, and I’m rather pleased to know that if one obsession peters out, I can find another one. It’s much preferable, from my POV, for me to be writing from love and enthusiasm than it would be if I felt compelled to write more of the same over and over because that was what was expected of me. I think that writing something simply because I felt I ought to would make my life not worth living, and it would also lead to the slow but inevitable descent of my stories into lifeless rubbish.

At the risk of being a little controversial, I can’t help feeling sometimes that that’s what happened to the later volumes of Harry Potter, or the Anita Blake novels – the authors got fed up of churning the same thing out and lost interest, and it showed.

But I can’t help wondering what readers think of that. I, for example, know that I will read anything at all written by Ursula LeGuin, no matter what the genre, but I will only read CJ Cherryh’s Science Fiction and not her fantasy.  What about you? Will you follow an author whose work you enjoy across genres? Or do you think “oh, I wish she would stop messing about with werewolf cop romps in Barbados, and get back to her 12th Century gardening detective novels.” Does the butterfly author risk losing everything every time they try something new?

And since I’m talking about crossing lines, lets talk about crossovers too. Here I’m on even more personal territory. I’ve realised that while I love historical romance and I love fantasy and mystery, what I’d like most would be to write historical fantasy romance. Maybe even historical fantasy mystery romance. The book I had most of a blast writing was The Wages of Sin – a historical ghost story murder mystery m/m romance.

Even my new Fantasy novels, Under the Hill: Bomber’s Moon and Under the Hill: Dogfighters have a strong streak of World War II in amongst the elves and the contemporary romance. I’m trying to have my cake and eat it – trying to amalgamate all the genres I like into every story.

But again – lots of doubts. Does, say, a historical fantasy appeal to both historical and fantasy fans, or does the presence of fantasy put off the historical fans, and the presence of history put off the fantasy ones, so it ends up appealing to neither?

These are the questions that are keeping me up recently, and I don’t have any answers. What do you think? Is it a good thing if authors jump genres? Should they change pseudonym if they do to avoid confusion? Is it a good thing to amalgamate genres, or should the genres be like noble gasses and resolutely refuse to be made into compounds? And if you like the idea of crossovers, what would you like to see crossed over with what, and why?



Alex Beecroft was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. She studied English and Philosophy before accepting employment with the Crown Court where she worked for a number of years. Now a stay-at-home mum and full time author, Alex lives with her husband and two daughters in a little village near Cambridge and tries to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.

Alex is only intermittently present in the real world.She has lead a Saxon shield wall into battle, toiled as a Georgian kitchen maid, and recently taken up an 800 year old form of English folk dance, but she still hasn’t learned to operate a mobile phone.

You can find me at or I talk more on LJ :)



4 years 2 months ago
I definitely think that writer should write whatever she wants and the audience will find her if she stays true to herself. As a reader will I follow the writer whose work I love in the new and unknown to me genre? Most definitely -99 percent of a time I will. Heh I guess it is a good thing that Iove historicals and mysteries and fantasy – cant wait to read your book. Would I follow the writer in the completely new to me genre? Yes I will, although very few writers. The only genre I am unlikely to follow… Read more »
4 years 2 months ago
Whoops! Sorry, Sirius, I hit the wrong reply button answering Angie’s comment. Sorry about that But hee! Thank you I think you’re safe from the threat of me killing off the hero. I can’t say I’ve ever thought of doing that. No matter what genre I’m in, I like to see a happy ending (or at least an “everything is resolved and now we can face the rest of our lives with a degree of hope” ending.) I’m not into books that leave you feeling depressed. As a reader I’m with you – I’ll at least try a new genre… Read more »
4 years 2 months ago
Thanks Angie! It’s interesting what you say about the pseudonyms. I once raised that topic on my blog and got lots of indignant, almost angry responses from readers who seemed to think that changing pen names for different genres was dishonest. I don’t really understand why it was an issue, because as you say you can quite easily make it clear that you write under these two names, and it seems more a matter of filing than anything else. (And yes, a different name for children’s books so they don’t go looking for what else you’ve written and end up… Read more »
4 years 2 months ago
About the indignant readers, I’ve noticed some in the last few years who take it as a personal insult if a writer has multiple pseuds; it’s like they think said writer is committing fraud or something. :/ Writers have been doing it for ages, though, with and without disclosing whose keyboard is behind the different names, and I don’t imagine anyone’s going to stop just because a few readers don’t like it. It’s unfortunate that they feel that way, but it’s really not hurting anyone, and writers who do that have their own reasons. [shrug] The boggle about the 1960s… Read more »
4 years 2 months ago
Well, quite. I honestly don’t get why the author’s name matters, unless they’re trying to pass something off as autobiographical when it isn’t. Other than that, I don’t see why it matters who is – as you say – behind the keyboard. I suppose it makes it harder for readers who are also friends to follow an author into a new genre, but in that case I’d sort of expect the author to tell the friends behind the scene anyway. I know what you mean about the “if it’s in the lifetime of anyone alive now it’s not historical” thing.… Read more »
4 years 2 months ago
As a writer, I write whatever I want to write, and hope there are readers who’ll enjoy it. I’ve been mostly into m/m for the last decade or so, but I’ve dabbled elsewhere and might move out entirely some time, although I’ll always be aware of and include GLBT characters. When I get published completely outside the m/m romance world, I’ll use a different pseud for the new genre. It won’t be a state secret because the point won’t be to hide, but rather it’ll be a marketing tag so people who like apples but aren’t into oranges can tell… Read more »
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