Have you noticed how some of the all-time bestselling authors have occasionally ventured away from their best-known genres to write a book in a completely different one? Here are some prime examples of the switch.
James Patterson is known world-wide for his great thrillers, some that he has penned himself, others where he has a co-author. His latest mega-seller is Shattered, written with author James O’Born, and released just this week. It is number 14 in their Detective Michael Bennett series, about the NYPD master homicide investigator who travels far outside his jurisdiction to search for missing FBI agent, Emily Parker — a woman with powerful connections as well as equally powerful enemies. The authors’ many fans continue to follow these characters and eagerly await the next installment.
Meanwhile, Patterson decided to pen a non-fiction book which was released a few weeks ago. It’s a memoir, James Patterson: The Stories of My Life. This one is described as fizzing, funny and often deeply moving with descriptions ranging from the day he was born — when he nearly died — to working in a mental hospital where he met singer James Taylor and poet Robert Lowell, as well as the time Dolly Parton once sang “Happy Birthday” to him over the phone. This too has become a major bestseller, though one wonders if it’s the same thriller readers who are buying it or if Patterson has attracted a whole new group of fans of non-fiction.
Speaking of mega-bestselling authors, David Baldacci’s books have sold over 150 million copies worldwide. He began his career back in 1996 writing the legal thriller, Absolute Power, which was made into a major motion picture starring Clint Eastwood. His latest thriller, The 6:20 Man, was also released last week. It’s the tale of how a cryptic murder pulls a former soldier turned financial analyst deep into the corruption and menace that prowl beneath the opulent world of finance.
Another one of Baldacci’s novels was completely different. It was a romantic tale that was also made into a movie, for the Hallmark Channel no less, and was a complete departure from his usual fare. This one, The Christmas Train, is the delightful story of a journalist, forced to travel by train, who must get from Washington, DC to Los Angeles in time for Christmas. During the magical trip, he discovers people’s essential goodness along with someone very special he believed he had lost. Yes, there’s romance in this one. It was such a charming film I still remember it.
I have to admit that I too have toyed with the idea of writing in a genre completely removed from my list of political thrillers. But when my new publisher said they wanted to bring out my latest thriller, Trust but Verify, in hardback, they also wanted to re-release my previous novels with new covers since there are continuing characters. I loved the idea but asked for a bit of time so I could go back and edit those novels to bring the technology up to date. I couldn’t have my hero rushing into the Situation Room midst the clatter of fax machines, now, could I?
Then during Covid, in a conversation with my agent, I said I had outlined the next thriller. However, she advised that publishers were currently looking for “feel good” stories to cheer up readers wanting an escape from warnings and lockdowns. So, I went ahead and wrote a number of them. If and when these new tales are published, we’ll see if my current readers decide to take a chance on a book in a different genre.
What about you? As a writer have you written in more than one genre? If not, would you like to try it? And as a reader, do you follow the author, no matter the genre, or stick to your favorite series? Leave a comment, we would enjoy reading your answers. And thanks for visiting us here on Rogue Women Writers.