Jan Surasky


On Genre

I am often asked what my books are “about.”

Of course, asking an author to sum up what their 365 page manuscript is “about” in one sentence, or even more quizzically, in a phrase, is often confounding, especially to the author. The response is often a tongue-tied blank stare.

Genres have been invented to hurry along that process, or more practically, to know where to shelve a book for commercial purposes.

But, that is not always a help to the author themself, since they have spent almost a lifetime trying to figure out how to reverse that process and turn what might be a phrase, a simple idea, or even an image, into a 365 page book.

They sit stumped before their computer, or an old typewriter, or even (goodness!) a piece of notebook paper with a pencil in their hand.

They must think about characters, plots, themes, settings, and, not least of all, how to get those out on that paper. How to string together a sentence so it says what the author wants it to say.

Coming together here are the first words the author has ever heard, to the teacher who corrected their grammar and made them realize that words are important, to everything they have ever observed or heard up to this point.

A one or two word “genre” cannot, of course, sum up what the author has spent years, often unknowingly, amassing, and is struggling to put onto paper. It cannot explain the process of getting lost in the world of a magical or almost unknown world of a manuscript for one or two years. Or, a few “key” words in the digital world explain a book. To me, every word in that manuscript is “key.”

But, I realize that I do have one word to explain all my books. It is not a word recognized in the commercial world of marketing to denote a book nor is it a recognized “genre.”

That one word is “love.”

My books all include romantic love, but they are not romances. They also include love of family, love of home, love of homeland, love of nature.

For what is more important in the world? If you answered “nothing” you would be correct.

“Love makes the world go round” is a saying handed down through so many generations that we often don’t pay attention any more as we hear it.

I am not an expert on the physics explanation of why the earth turns, or, to put it in simpler terms, what makes the world go round. But, I do know there must be love in there somewhere.