I'm so pleased to welcome Rolf Hitzer to the blog today! (See my review of his book Hoodoo Sea.) I asked Rolf Hitzer to tell us a bit about genre classification and his inspiration for his totally unforseen ending!
The inspiration to pen Hoodoo Sea evolved from a documentary I had watched on the Discovery Channel. The program was about how technologies were advancing to achieve speed-of-light travel. My novel starts with this capability existing now in the plot and the story assumes it is science fiction.
However, just as the plot takes a twist during the test-flight through the Bermuda Triangle, the genre also moves from one place to another. As a new author this decision was taking a risk as publishers recommend against this writing style. To be honest, at the time I wasn’t conscious of the genre shift from science fiction to horror/thriller, my thoughts were consumed with the progress of the story.
Upon completion, I never read the book until late this spring when I had received the Galleys. Looking back when I was seeking representation for my manuscript, I had listed the novel in my query letters as science fiction because that’s what the first chapters were in my submissions.
Between the agent, proofreaders and editors, each had a different opinion on the novels genre. In the end it was decided to submit the book as science fiction to the range of publishers as opposed to horror, or the third label as a religious story, which had caught me by surprise. In my heart Hoodoo Sea is a horror story because good is battling over evil with the stakes being deadly. Britt, when you had posed the question as to what genre I thought the book really was, I had mentioned to you that I wasn’t entirely sure? I still feel that way.
As I was reaching the end of the novel I had mixed emotions on how the story would eventually play out. Like yourself, I don’t wish to give the ending away and I will select my words carefully. My original intention with the two characters, Scott and Deedee, would have made a feel good and predictable ending in the book. I had some anguish with the direction I ended up taking with these characters in order to have a unique story. Even now I second-guess this decision, but my desire to throw the reader off track and have them scratching their head had made my mind up on how I ended the novel. I knew it would be another risk.
My fears were put at ease when I had received an email from a reader. He is a criminal investigator and one of the things he takes pride in is his ability to successfully predict the outcome of a novel. When he had read Hoodoo Sea, he didn’t see what was coming and he was thoroughly entertained by it. That being said, I have also had the opposite opinion. Mission accomplished, I think?