Right now I'm at Bouchercon, the annual crime/mystery convention, which is being held in Toronto this year. So why am I bringing up cross-genre fiction while I'm attending a mystery con?
So, I was chatting with David Morrell (his first novel was First Blood, and he's written so many great books!) after he signed a book for me, and he brought up how he likes to write in multiple genres as well as mixing genres in one book. And that got me thinking about how audiences used to a certain style from a writer would react to something different, or to multiple genres in one book.
So I thought Iron Angels, the book I co-wrote with Eric Flint.
Iron Angels is a cross-genre novel, but at its heart an FBI procedural which happens to contain elements of horror and the fantastic. And that means there may be portions of the book that may not appeal to certain readers. How can this be remedied? How would a reader who doesn't necessarily care for science fiction get into the book?
For mystery/crime readers: skip the prologue in Iron Angels.
Yep. Go ahead and skip it. Why? It's aliens/demons speaking in a crazy made-up language. It's not a long prologue, but for that type of reader, they may get kicked out of the book before it even begins!
Just go to Chapter 1--my knowledge of FBI procedure kicks in with the first sentence and continues for most of the book. Once you're hooked with the FBI ERT crime scene and investigative procedures, go back and read the prologue if you feel like it, but it isn't necessary to understand the plot.
Science fiction and (urban)fantasy readers, or those who enjoy horror can read the prologue and be happy. I do believe though, that anyone who has been curious about FBI procedure will learn a lot from the book even with the fantastic elements.
There may be sections in cross-genre novels that readers won't like, but I think if a story is entertaining enough, engaging enough with interesting characters, it won't matter as the reader will be pulled along regardless of the cross-genre content.
Just a few thoughts. And for the record--when I read I usually skip the prologue and then end up reading it later. I think most readers do that, right?