Crossing the Boundaries of Genre and Age
by Kia Zi Shiru
Otherkin Spirits, my upcoming series, is a totally new experience for me. Some know I’ve dabbled in the magical world before, both in published work and some older writings. What I hadn’t done before was actually writing full blown novels in it. Otherkin Spirits will change that and more. Not only does it change genre but also age group. My previous works the Black Sheep Trilogy and Magical Roads are both written for an 18- audience, where I decided to up that age for my new series.
The change isn’t as weird as it seems, for a mostly contemporary author to venture into the realm of the magical. Black Sheep originally started almost 6 years ago, I was not even 18 when I started it and wanted something to write for my own age. So Vic and Jack are 18 and 17 years old, they are still in high school (even though I had just graduated) and the setting is contemporary as I didn’t dare set up a magical world just yet and that I thought it would distract from the theme of the story. Vic and Jack deserved to be in this world.
Even though both the characters are of an age that they would be allowed to have sex, I decided not to. It never really fit the story or the characters. This was both a conscious choice and something that came out of the story.
But after working on this for years I knew I needed to write something else. Don’t worry, I’m not leaving contemporary fiction behind me I’ve already got a new story in the works. The idea for Otherkin Spirits came about probably three years ago. The original plot line is almost no longer recognisable and there are only a few scenes that made it from that version to this story. Back then I wrote some scenes, a couple of bits of outline and filed everything away as I didn’t know if I could do it justice.
Two years ago for NaNoWriMo (2011) I dug out those plot ideas and made it into what is now Disturbed Fate. The story of a seer who finds out that someone has tampered with fate and now has to fix that before more people die. Don’t expect an easy read, easier than Black Sheep, sure, easy over all… not really.
Otherkin Spirits combines a lot of things that I love in both the real world and the magical world. I’ve used ideas from so many sources. Not just years of reading urban fantasy books or other fantasy books but also underground cultures in our own world. I’m using sanguine and psychic vampires, a big underground culture that I ran into a couple of years ago and that I had been dying to use in one of my stories. Which is also where the title of otherkin comes from. Kin means same, as in kindred spirits, those who are the same. Otherkin both points towards them being different from normal and also different from each other as all of the stories contain multiple species of creatures.
I love things like that, things that not everybody sees but that can be a huge part of people’s lives, like some parts of gothic culture in Black Sheep. In Otherkin Spirits the involvement of the supernatural and magical differs per story as I’m playing around with different genres within the series. The first book is more a combination of paranormal and urban fantasy while the second one is definitely an urban fantasy romance, built on a traditional romance plotline. The third and fourth ones are a bit more genre specific when it comes to plot lines and deal largely with growing up, or growing into becoming something.
Being me, I can’t just let go to give people strong convictions and troubles to deal with. In Otherkin Spirits I chose to up the age of my characters, not just because I became older but also because it gives a new set of challenges to deal with. In the young adult genre people usually deal with school and friends at school. Growing into the new adult genre I can give my characters different struggles. Most of my cast are often made up of friends of who some do and others don’t go to school any more. Some already live on their own while others still live with their parents. The range in a group of friends is bigger and I really enjoyed playing with that.
It also opened up something else for me. Sex. Otherkin Spirits let me play around with sex and strong sexual tension. Something I hadn’t seriously done before but I am enjoying now. Not all sexual tension means sex and having two guys strung up and sexual energy flying around and then breaking them apart, most fun I’ve had with characters in years without hurting them too much.
In Disturbed Fate I really enjoyed both the couples in the story, their totally different dynamics and how I could play with their differences in nature to make things fun or complicated. And yes, of course I simply enjoyed writing the sex scenes. Two hot guys going at each other is fun.
For me, urban fantasy new adult fiction was simply a progression from contemporary young adult fiction. It gives me more freedom to play around with while at the same time combining the genre that I love with struggles that are specific to new adult, like having friends in different types of lives or growing into a responsible adult. It’s a different playing field, more open, but at the same time, I love young adult for what you can show and the boundaries of it.
The fun of writing different genres is in that you can play with the rules, you’re no longer bound to just one set of rules, and combining multiple genres makes that even more fun. And fun… Expect loads of fun in Otherkin Spirits, because what is urban fantasy without fun.
Kia Zi Shiru is a Dutch girl studying English and Creative Writing in the UK. Amongst her interests she finds writing, reading, doing research and learning different languages (including but not limited to: English, Dutch, French, German, HTML, Java, PHP and Assembly). Her writing and reading habits include books with Young Adults, gay themes, strong female or minority characters and fantasy elements (more often than not all at the same time).
You can find her:
Website Twitter Facebook
And if you want to keep up to date you can sign up for her newsletter here.
Do you read/write in multiple genres or do you stick to just one?