Moving Among Genres by Linda O. Johnston

lindaphotoLinda O. Johnston, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, currently writes one mystery series for Midnight Ink involving dogs: the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries.  She has also written the Superstition Mysteries for Midnight Ink as well as the Pet Rescue Mystery Series, a spinoff from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime.  She additionally currently writes for Harlequin Romantic Suspense as well as the Alpha Force paranormal romance miniseries about shapeshifters for Harlequin Nocturne.  Her June release was her 46th published novel, with more to come.


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Versatility.  Keeping things fresh.  Using different voices.  Working in different points of view.  Multiple publishers.

Those are some of the good things about writing in multiple genres.

Confusion now and then.  Concern whether readers are focusing on one type of series and not the other(s).  Needing to belong to many different writing organizations rather than just one.

These are some of the not-so-good things about writing in multiple genres.

I should know.  I’ve written in several different genres, often at the same time.

My first published fiction was a short story in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and I won the Robert L. Fish Award for best first short story of the year.  After that, I had several more mystery short stories published, and have had additional ones published over the years.

But then I moved into time travel romance, where I wrote several novels for Dorchester Publishing.  I got my rights back to those stories, which was a good thing since Dorchester went out of business.  But I knew I enjoyed writing paranormal romance.

Next was romantic suspense.  I wrote several novels for Harlequin Intrigue.

From there, I somewhat segued into cozy mysteries, beginning my Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter Mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime.  But was I done with romance?  No.  I also wrote some paranormal romances for a different Harlequin line, Nocturne.  That turned into my Alpha Force miniseries for Nocturne, about a covert military unit of shapeshifters, which will be ending next year.  I’ll have one more Alpha Force Nocturne, to be published in November 2018, before the line ends.

Back to cozy mysteries.  My Pet Rescue Mysteries were a spin-off from my Kendra mysteries.  I was definitely hooked on cozies, and when it looked like the Pet Rescue Mysteries were ending, I began writing the Superstition Mysteries for Midnight Ink.  Then, at the same time, I started writing another series for MI: the Barkery & Biscuits Mysteries.  They’re continuing, although the Superstition Mysteries aren’t.

But was I giving up on romances?  No.  As I mentioned, I am still writing Nocturnes.  Plus, I went back to romantic suspense, writing for the Harlequin Romantic Suspense line.   I’m also still writing for HRS and will have a new miniseries starting there next March, the K-9 Ranch Rescue series.

Oh, and I haven’t mentioned yet that all the stuff I’m currently writing features dogs.  That gives my books a recurring theme.

So am I confusing you–or my readers?

One way to hopefully avoid readers’ confusion is to use a different pseudonym for each genre, or use your own name for one of them and pseudonyms for the rest.

I’ve never done that.  I’ve been published by different print publishers, sometimes at the same time, and no editor has even suggested it.  And I like the idea of my own name being associated with me and what I write, no matter what it is.

Would I take on a pseudonym someday?  Sure, if it made sense at the time.  But I’m just as happy remaining me.

In fact, that’s the important thing: being happy with what you’re doing.  If you like writing in one genre, that’s fine.  If you like writing in multiple genres, go for it.  If you’re not sure, concentrate on what you like to read–or just start writing and see where it goes.

That’s something I find especially inviting and exciting about being a writer.  There are no restrictions!  And if you’re settled into one or two genres, whether fiction, non-fiction or both, and get an inspiration to go in a different direction, you can always do it!  You may have to rethink the publication process, with traditional publishers that are major or smaller, or go for self-publishing, or both.  Any way you choose is just fine.

Where am I going?  I’ve got some ideas–I always have ideas–and we’ll all just have to wait to see where the next steps lead me.

12 thoughts on “Moving Among Genres by Linda O. Johnston”

  1. I am astounded by your versatility. I have read from several of your series and they each have their own flavor. I don’t know if I could do so much juggling of plots and people at the same time. I would have my pet-sitter sitting with a werewolf while baking doggy biscuits and thinking about rescuing a trapped cat in an abandoned house… You are amazing that you can keep them all straight.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I think it’s great that you can juggle so many series, some of them at the same time. I especially like that they are mostly doggie themed, so if a reader picks up a different series by mistake, they aren’t disappointed. Congratulations!


  3. I, too, Linda, am amazed how prolific and versatile you are. If it weren’t for a character list I keep for every book (one of my few bows to organization(smile)) I’d be lost, but you handle multiple genres with aplomb! And I so agree with, “…In fact, that’s the important thing: being happy with what you’re doing….” and you certainly “put truth” in your writing to “There are no restrictions!” Forty-six novels–truly amazing. Kudos to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I’m out of breath! Juggling multiple series must be daunting; I’m struggling with one. I’ve recently added a mystery/suspense novel to my writing calendar, partly out of curiosity to see if I could do it, but also because, as you stated, I wanted to do something different. It’s given me some relief from my war-oriented historical fiction series. Virtually no research needed and no need to watch out for anachronisms. Easy peasy by comparison.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. It amazes me too at the amount of books (WORDS, for heaven’s sake) that you write. After all you write quite a few blog posts as well!
    Maybe amazed too at your having them all published! You make it seem effortless.
    I do like your advice – to write what you like in as many genres as you like, if that’s only one. Just get started and try!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I am always awed by your versatility, Linda, and the way you are able to switch genres but bring all your skill to the party with each book. I appreciate your admonition to “enjoy what you’re doing” and probably one reason your work is so fresh (and prolific!) is that you are able to mix it up so well. You will never be bored!


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