As of this writing, Lisa Beth Darling is 48 years-old and have been married to her wonderful husband, Roy for the last 28 years! They live in her hometown of New London, CT where they have raised two daughters to adulthood. She loves living in New England and can hardly imagine herself being happy anywhere else. She’s often asked: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
In the 4th grade she discovered that she was a writer when she was given her first creative writing assignment. We were to write stories about a baby bird’s flight and read them to the class. She put pencil to paper and was instantly whisked away by a force she couldn’t explain. She knew she was meant to do this very thing, this very simple act of putting pencil to paper and letting her mind free. Everyone read their happy stories to the class. She got up and told of how the baby bird flew too high, hit a plane, crashed to the ground and died. She told of how the mama bird and daddy bird cried of how even God was upset sending the rains pouring from the sky. The class was speechless when she finished they were all just staring at her. The teacher kept me after class told me my story was very good but it was different from the others. She asked me if she’d ever heard of Icarus and did she base my story on him. But she had yet to encounter Greek Mythology or hear a whisper of Icarus. As she let Lisa leave class she again told me how good the story was but suggested she might want to write something happier next time. She asked her why and she had no answer. Lisa never took her advice.
In Jr. High Lisa penned novels so hot her classmates mimeographed them (yes…mimeograph!) and passed them around the school like Pez. It wasn’t long before she was called down to the Guidance Office. Her teachers had also gotten hold of my stories and couldn’t believe what they were reading. The dark adult subject matter and the talent behind it. Much ruckus ensued her mother was called in to school. People thought there was something wrong with her. She insisted there wasn’t and she stood her ground. Her father and her favorite English teacher came to her defense. Lisa prevailed without compromise and continue unto this day to write her way without fluff.
Lisa finds little used for fluff except on a peanut butter sandwich. She’s always written with a pen toward dealing with the facets of humanity most authors shy away from or at least never explore in any detail. She finds that if you never go deep into the dark then you never truly feel the blessing of the light when it shines upon you. So nearly everything she writes, fiction and non-fiction, tends to have a darker bend to it. In her Dark Adult Romance novels she writes stories that revolve around a relationship, whether it’s a romantic relationship or some other close tie. Things never run smoothly in her stories there is always at least one bad guy out to destroy our happy couple whether it’s a god or a serial killer. Great opposition is faced, secrets are revealed, and with any luck at all, in the end our happy couple wins the day. Although not always.
When back in the Dark Ages when I was young, right around 1975 or so, there wasn’t any such thing as a ‘genre writer’. Writers were writers and that’s all there was to it. One might write non-fiction or they might write books for adults or they might write children’s books. A few very talented folks did 2 or even all 3 of those. Unlike today where everything is broken down and broken down again and maybe a third time until one becomes known as something like a ‘paranormal romance writer’. That may be good for the reader but it’s terrible for the author who easily becomes pigeonholed into a category they may (or may not) feel is suited to them based solely on what book of theirs became popular first.
The main problem with being labeled a ‘genre writer’ is it becomes very hard to break out of that cage people/publishers/agents/PR guys have put you in. It becomes very difficult to get anything different out on the market under your own name because in 2014 you’re only supposed to write one type of story for ever and ever even if it’s not your chosen genre or heaven bid you don’t want to choose a genre and you want to be known simply as a writer.
I started out writing books that were on the dark side and I’ve stuck with that ever since that’s where I feel most comfortable. I wrote all out horror stories for the most part maybe with a tinge of romance. From there I fiddled with Contemporary Romance and I even dabble in non-fiction. But because the series I’m best known for, the OF WAR Series of ‘paranormal romances’ is what people know of me they believe I should do that and only that for the rest of my life. Mostly they’d be happy if I narrowed it even further and just wrote about Ares, Alena, and the Olympians until I die.
While I love that series and my main man Ares, that’s not what I want. Like an actor who wants to play many different roles and become many different people because it’s what they do and what they like and variety is the only thing that offers them the chance to expand their craft I want to do the same. Look at it this way; playing the same type of part over and over again will get you ‘type cast’ and writing the same type of book over and over will get ‘genre locked’. While the movie goer or reader may really like a certain actor in a certain type of role or a certain writer’s style, for the artist its akin to eat spaghetti every single night for your entire life. No matter what different types of pastas you make or what kind of sauce you dress it up with it’s still spaghetti. Tasty and delicious as it is once in a while you may yearn for a thick juicy steak.
This is where I am now with my writing career. In the next few weeks I’m going to ‘jump genres’ and come out with something totally different from the OF WAR Series. While the new novella “Sister Christian: Genesis” is still a little on the dark side (just a shade) it doesn’t have anything ‘paranormal’ or even a ‘romance’ until the very last book. It’s a short series about a brother and a sister who help each other heal the wounds life has laid on them. It’s actually rather….gasp!…literary.
People ask me why I’m doing this when the first series was so popular. In their opinions, I should just stick with that narrow genre because it sells for me. They voice concerns that I risk losing some of the readers who took the last journey with me. I risk those readers feeling hurt or even abandoned by me.
They have good points but I’m tired of eating spaghetti.
That doesn’t mean I don’t like my readers or that I’m throwing them over for a new audience. No way! Heck where would I be without them? I’d be typing away for my own amusement and nothing more. Not that that’s a bad thing but we all know that a story is absolutely nothing but dust if no one reads it. No matter how good that story is it all comes to naught if no one enjoys it.
Genre jumping does mean that I want to expand my horizons, my talents, my creativity and in so doing perhaps I’ll get very lucky and those who’ve stuck with me through the OF WAR Series will also have their horizons expanded by reading the Sister Christian Series and getting into something new and different.
Besides, there’s nothing that dictates I can never have spaghetti again.