February 17, 2012

The Moon Hill Blog Tour: Genre-Bending (a guest post by Anthony J. Rapino)

To cap off the week, here's a guest post from Anthony J. Rapino, a talented author whose work is finally getting a spotlight shone on it. I've been checking out his short stories for a couple years now, when I come across them on the Internet or anthologies, so it's especially nice to see the guy with a brand new collection of his stories being published. To celebrate, he's in the middle of a blog tour to get the word out, and I was eager to give him one more apple crate to stand on and hock his wares. Enjoy.
The Moon Hill Blog Tour: Genre-Bending
by Anthony J. Rapino
Thanks to Gef for helping celebrate the release of my new horror collection, Welcome to Moon Hill.

Recently, it was brought to my attention that my horror collection isn’t really horror. Or, more accurately, a good portion of the stories in the collection are not horror. My response surprised even me: “I know.” I did know! Yet somehow it hadn’t occurred to me that marketing it as “horror” might hurt sales. I’m still not sure it does.

Let me explain. I write horror; this is true. But when I write, I also blur genre lines. I’m not talking combo genres like horror/sci-fi or mystery/western. I simply mean I don’t force the stories I write to adhere to horror conventions. I let the story tell itself, whatever that may mean.

What I’m left with is a collection of stories that, if I’m being accurate, range across multiple subgenres: speculative fiction, absurdist, horror, magical realism, bizarro, dark humor, and so on.

One of the problems with marketing such a collection is that with all these different subgenres commingling, it’s incredibly hard to choose a single blanket genre (although personally, I believe horror, or at the very least speculative fiction, works fine). The second problem is that Amazon doesn’t have many subgenres to choose from. There are some, but not many. For instance, the only “horror” subcategories available on Amazon are occult, dark fantasy, anthologies, and ghosts.

Honestly, that’s okay with me. Genres are important for categorization. It makes it easier for people to find what they’re looking for. But beyond that, I find them absolutely unnecessary. I’ve always hated labels when applied to people, and at its worst, genres are just as bad.

I can’t count the number of times I wouldn’t read a book or see a movie solely based on the genre (Romantic comedy? No thanks!) only to finally see it and love it. Then I’d say to myself, “Self, that movie was in fact a romantic comedy, and yet it transcended it’s genre to the point of brilliance.” Okay, so I never actually said that, but the point stands.

The same goes for novels. Plenty of people might see Welcome to Moon Hill in the horror category and skip it, because they hate horror (or whatever their idea of horror may be). But then they’d miss out on the stories in the collection that are more than horror, the ones that are about wonder, hope, or love, merely told with speculative elements or an undercurrent of darkness.

That’s when genre labels are bad: When they dictate what a person reads.

Let’s all attempt to branch out, try something new, and not let labels dictate our lives.

If you’d like to help me defeat all normalcy left in the universe, join my Minions. And for proof of my psychosis, please visit my website.

Moon Hill is a forgotten place that few purposely visit, and even less leave. Once you arrive, the deep dark of the forest creeps into your mind and will not relent. Strange flowers that grow from deer carcasses, murderous lunatics, talking ravens, wriggling parasites that induce eruptive confessions, and demons of every variety: they all live here too.

Even so, the residents of Moon Hill can feel, beyond the fear and distress, that this land is special and they are lucky to live here. Most everyone feels that way right up until the day they come a little too close to the magic of this place. When dusk's light leaks through their carefully locked doors and rips holes in their minds.

Then, they pray for release.

--Welcome to Moon Hill.


  1. Thanks, Gef! And please, readers, forgive my silly its/it's mistake in the text. That's my fault for not editing closely enough. ;-)

  2. Mistakes just mean you're endearingly human (or are you).

    Personally, I think labels (genres) box a writer in. We're imaginative souls and tend to color outside the lines from time to time. (Hugs)Indigo

  3. Human? Perhaps. ;-) Absolutely agreed, Indy.

  4. I tend to use the word horror too to explain stories that are dark but not necessarily scary. Bloody labels.

  5. I know! I honestly didn't give it much thought until some friends in a writing group brought it up.

  6. Oh but Cate, the bloody labels make them horror, right?

    Right. Not that kind of bloody.

    It's this very argument which leads folks to give "The Year's Best Horror" subpar reviews on Amazon. "I wasn't scared..."

    But I am. Very. Scared.