I am probably predominantly a genre writer and reader, if we’re going with labels and categories (and let’s face it, that’s what happens in publishing whether we like it or not). Of course I’ve read and written literary fiction as well in my long years of doing this, and I appreciate a great deal of the literary stuff. You could say that most of the micro & flash fiction I write and read is of a more literary nature, however, like I said earlier this week in The Morning Muse, I still usually require a strong sense of story, regardless of length or category. When I was a fiction editor that was one of my major requirements of the pieces I considered for awarding the gift of publication, regardless of word count. Still, for the majority of my fiction buying money and precious reading time, it’s genre fiction for me – crime, dark fantasy, horror, paranormal, science fiction, supernatural, suspense, thrillers, urban fantasy, a slew of sub-genres and more. It’s just what I dig most.
I am reminded of what I once heard Stephen King say a few years back in a video interview (topic begins at the 7:20 mark). Essentially he said literary fiction (or “literature”) is often about extraordinary people in ordinary circumstances, and genre fiction (aka “popular fiction”) is generally about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.
Breaking it down that way, I suppose my favorite of the two to read in long form is the normal Joe or Jane who struggles against abnormal situations, and terrible odds, and trials and tribulations that they must overcome just to try to get back to that normal life, rather than the exceptional (sometimes haughty) individual who stands out in the crowd of otherwise unremarkable people doing mundane things. Unsurprisingly that extends to the long fiction I write as well.
I think I might touch upon this some more later in The Evening Muse. In the meantime, check out this interview with Uncle Stevie from around the time Under the Dome was published (2009?).