What genre should my next novel be in?

One of my goals between now and The Mirage‘s publication is to figure out what novel I want to write next. I’ve got some specific ideas I’ll be blogging about, but first, a more general question. Mostly by chance, I’ve developed a reputation for never writing in the same genre twice, and I’d like to continue that if I can. So here’s a list of possibilities I’m considering. Pick your favorite (or two if you like):

What genre would you like to see me tackle next?

  • Romantic comedy (5%, 10 Votes)
  • Young adult (3%, 7 Votes)
  • Lovecraftian horror (15%, 30 Votes)
  • SF involving space travel (13%, 26 Votes)
  • Historical war novel about women's combat unit (7%, 15 Votes)
  • Time travel (18%, 36 Votes)
  • People with superpowers (15%, 30 Votes)
  • Royal/political intrigue (4%, 8 Votes)
  • Nail-biting drama about intellectual property law (8%, 16 Votes)
  • Forking paths story* (11%, 22 Votes)
  • Other (see comments) (1%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 135

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*A “forking paths story” is one that contains a crucial branching point—where the protagonist does or does not catch a bus, calls heads or tails, decides to turn east, north, or west—after which the narrative splits to show the consequences of each of the different branches. Examples include Carol Anshaw’s novel Aquamarine and the movie Sliding Doors.

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21 Responses to What genre should my next novel be in?

  1. I vote for a monster picaresque…

    • Matt Ruff says:

      What is monster picaresque? It sure sounds cool, but I must have been woolgathering the day Mr. McCourt explained it.

      • Eh, I just invented the term 🙂 Picaresque = “an episodic recounting of the adventures of an anti-hero on the road” (according to our most trusted reference, Wikipedia–sorry, Lisa, it’s just so…right there). Think Huckleberry Fin or Tom Jones. Imagine it with a monster protagonist (e.g. zombie).

        Huh, sounds like fun. Maybe I should do one…

  2. Christoph Hadnagy says:

    Although I would be interested in reading a historical war novel about a woman’s combat unit, I’m afraid that this genre had already been covered in all its depth by Monty Python: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vMqSmiC_xHg
    Hence, I vote for “People with Superpowers”

  3. Johannes Rüster says:

    As much I would love to read your take on superheroes or space opera, why not combine it with a Rashomonesque multiperspective plotline where we see the story unfold from various perspectives?

  4. David Berger says:

    Lovecraftian horror.

    2011 calls for it, for so many different ways. Down with gore, up with dread.

  5. Elizabeth Brunner says:

    I have such faith in the offbeat brilliance of your mind. I will read absolutely anything you publish. But “nail-biting drama about intellectual property law” got my vote. Would love to see some experimentation with illustrations & special inserts or fold-outs. Playing with the visuals of the book, as well as the text.

  6. Mat Black says:

    Sadly, I could only make two choices (Lovecraftian horror/Superpowers)… I really would have liked to add Historical war novel about women’s combat unit and Nail-biting drama about intellectual property law in there as well… not as four separate choices, mind you… all the same story… it could happen…

  7. Shel Graves says:

    How about an alternate history about a women’s combat unit?

    But I voted forking paths. This has been on my mind, “Sometimes I can hear my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.” ― Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

  8. Z says:

    A story set in San Francisco involving Space Travel could be interesting.

  9. Inken Schuster says:

    pretty sure we will find at least four of the genres in your next ouevre… The forking paths can go with some of them, so this got my 1st vote. And the women combat unit, certainly, because I’d love to read you handling history. I also like Nicola Griffith’s idea about a picaresque novel. Well, Matt there’s a lot to do!!!!!! Waiting desperately for The Mirage here in Germany!

  10. Deborah Rosenblum says:

    I’m with Matt Black here. Historical novel about a woman’s combat unit, with a nail biting property law drama as the subplot. Now, if you could go all the way and make it a romance bodice ripper and a morality tale that hinges on the flip of a coin….

    Or maybe a cookbook!

    Whatever it is, I’ll read it.

    (I was so disappointed to realize I read it wrong. People with superpowers, not people with superglue. Oh well.)

  11. Vantastica says:

    Hi, thanks for this.

    I would be excited to read…
    Something with an anthropological/archeological spin – and by that I mean mystic crap, though no crap it shall be….hmmm. That not quite sums it up. srry
    (oh yeah I know now….non conventional Fantasy…I know I know…But what can I say, I like Fantasy. But I would like you to do some. FAntasy is not fantasy, right?

    I voted for young adult because I like (interesting) coming of age stories.

    romantic comedy sure sounds interesting, because I would love to read characters you write in some kind of relationship. It would be a delight. I am expecting no bodice ripper 😉 –>I generally enjoy the relationships you have in your books. I like more of that. (Does not neccessarily have to be women man find true love “guaranteed” at the end… bla blah blah)

    I really love set this house in order.It has a special place in my heart.
    I loved fool on the hill. I learned to like sewer, gas and electric. (picked it up at the library at a young age. Did not read it until a couple of years later, after I read fool on the hill) You see, I did not give up on you, I can smell special (in the very best way) writers from a hundred miles. 🙂

    Bad Monkeys was not the book for me. I was terrified. The layers this book has though.

    I deeply enjoy reading you. I look forward to your new book.

  12. Vantastica says:

    Me, again

    in the last couple of weeks I had – due to illness and holidays – way to much time on my hands. Now instead of spending it with reading, I was spending it with watching TV-series on the internet.

    I saw
    Misfits (people with superpowers, though not what you might expect) -much fund and very much not PC 🙂 Also, british
    Being Human (Vampire, Ghost and Werewolf – again UK !version – well, the cliché is dead, long live the cliché – it is kind of good
    AND
    Lost (I never bothered before) – I powered through 6 seasons in 1 and a half week…I am now officially lost in Lost.

    There we have :
    pwsp (Misfits)
    mystery/supernatural spin (Being Human)
    mythology/time travel/forking path story (Lost)

    Misfits and Being Human are lots of fun and especially Misfits takes itself not too seriously (no cheesfest and more important no cheesy music score.)

    Lots of blood in all of them.All of them have interesting characters and good character AND story development.

    Just an information. So do the exact opposite. Or not. Or just watch some of it.

  13. Vantastica says:

    I’m on a roll:
    I hope my contributions do count as those and not end in a spam folder, because of the amount of my comments….honestly!It just pops out of my head – with not having used English for quite a while now it is hard getting it in your head again.

    -) I didn’t mean mystical story in the first comment, I meant mythological – I love some connections tied to the old myths of our world- with maybe a touch of mystery, magic….
    More instinct, less “cold, modern, sober, technical” (boring) approach. (in comparison to our time not your books!) In our time, where everything can be and will be reasoned and rationalized. Again, booring.

    I have a book, picked up by curiosity written by the mother of a politican – a pride example of the modern mind – she in all earnesty describes her garden fairies, her housgnomes….and how to get them to come to your home. I honestly envy this women for believing in and living with those creatures….I could not.

    2.)
    I had a brilliant idea, I, of course knew, would neever forget. Of course, I forgot. Dam it.

    Thanks for reading 🙂 Keep writing. Best of wishes.
    V

  14. Gabriele Kleindienst says:

    I voted for People with Superpowers and Forking Paths – perhaps in combination with the tough Kite character from Sewer, Gas and Electric. I would realy like to know more about her – a 181-year-old woman, with one arm who had fought in the American Civil War!? There has to be a little bit of superpower in there. And her dramatic life would surely be perfect for a forking path treatment.

  15. Thija says:

    Romantic comedy bores me most. So I’d like to see you tackle that.
    Everything historical would need to come up to Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle to catch me.
    So my vote is for a romantic comedy in a historical war novel, since I’d consider that the maximum challenge of your choices.

  16. Brian Roskow says:

    as a chef, i would love to see some sort of romantic-culinary/restaurant-comedy in the “ruffian storytelling” style. i agree that romance comedies can be awful, but feel with your magical spins it would be a stellar tale.

    • Matt Ruff says:

      I actually do have an idea along these lines. It’s still in the larval stages, though, so it’s not a leading contender for book #6.

  17. Jasper Haenen says:

    Intellectual property will be quite an interesting topic the next few years now that Ipads can do to books what mp3-files did to CD’s 🙂

  18. Steph says:

    The physical manifestation of shit in our head (Set This House In Order) could cross genres, especially in the realm of political intrigue or intellectual property law. I love all your books, but Set This House gave us crazies – multiple personalities or run-of-the-mill voices in the head – a tool to organize the mental chaos. Brilliant. Years later the book is still in my head house.

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