This week's roundtable is a short, and hopefully simple one, the answers to which have been nagging at my brain for some time.
What is your favorite genre to read? To write? If they're not the same, why is that?
Robert Krog: My favorite genre to read is sometimes history/archaeology, and sometimes fantasy and sometimes, well, you get the picture. When I look at my bookshelves, I see that I own about an equal amount of history as I do fiction of whatever genre. These days, I probably read slightly more fantasy than anything else, but I've probably read more history, over all. I don't have a favorite genre, though. I move as easily through one as through another, with the exception of romance and erotica, which I do not enjoy, though I have nothing against a love story.
When I sit down to write a story, it is usually fantasy that jumps out from my fingers first, so that may be a subconscious admission that I like to write fantasy more than anything else. I certainly fall into that mode most readily. Still, the story that came to me fastest and was written most cleanly in the shortest amount of time was a piece of science fiction. Furthermore, I limit myself to no genre and have written the gamut from literary fiction to steampunk.
Why do I think of fantasy first? Fantasy was what I read most when I was young, and that seems to have formed me. Also, I spent many hours each week running around outside pretending with my siblings and friends that we were knights and wizards, elves and dwarves and such. That is probably why. There is also the fact that fantasy, as much as or more than, any other genre, allows the writer and reader to explore themes that they might not otherwise explore. The distance fantasy affords is of inestimable worth. We can, through fantasy, symbolically explore questions. The exercise of imagination that fantasy affords is equally useful. And fantasy is a natural extension of the sorts of stories told in every culture from the dawn of history on. What is mythology but an attempt to understand the world through fantastic storytelling? Then, too, fantasy touches us to the heart just as much any other type of well-written literature, engages our sense of wonder, and provides the reader with entertainment that can be edifying or merely escapist.
Ralph Angelo, Jr.: For me, the genre's are essentially the same. action packed Sci-Fi/ Epic fantasy. The same stuff I like to read I like to write. I usually get inspired by what I read at times and new ideas start to flow. My favorite stories to write occur out of the real world. They are in deep space or worlds filled with powerful beings be they magical or scientific in origin.
Kristofer Upjohn: I like writing horror, both non-fiction about horror and fiction. "horror" is a broad term here since some of my fiction isn't strictly horror based on content but rather in terms of darkness or bleakness. I also write stream-of-consciousness slash surrealist stuff. I like to read fantasy, comic books, noir/crime, a little horror (mostly Anne Rice and Brian Lumley) and some sci-fi. I've often pondered why I write one thing and read another and have yet to arrive at a satisfactory answer. Reading and writing are two different activities and I guess what pleases me to read is different from what I find fun to write (and what I'm good at writing).
Marian Allen: NOT simple! ~sigh~ If I HAD to choose ONE genre to read to the exclusion of all others, I suppose it would have to be fantasy, if fantasy could be sufficiently broad to cover magic realism, literary fantasy, urban fantasy, and science fantasy as well as the more traditional forms. And that would be the genre I would choose to write, too, given a broad enough interpretation of the term.
Armand Rosamilia: I write a few different genres but mostly horror and zombie fiction, although I have dabbled in contemporary fiction, thrillers, erotica, and even romance under a pen name... but I usually only read nonfiction books. I love biographies and memoirs. I can't remember the last time I read a horror book, and it has to do with me not wanting to inadvertently bleeding in other author's ideas into my stories, I guess...
Richard Lee Byers: My answer to both "What do you like to read?" and "What do you like to write?" is that it varies according to my mood. Lately, I've been reading a lot of Lovecraftian horror and writing it as well. I will say that although I've written and likely will continue to write more swords-wizards-and-castles fantasy than anything else and love the sub-genre, I don't read nearly as much of that as I used to. I think that's partly because I'm so familiar with the beats and tropes that it's hard to surprise me and partly because if I'm writing a particular type of fiction, reading it in my leisure time isn't always pleasurable. I want something different. My final thought is that I may have reached the point where I don't look for particular genres so much as particular authors. If, for example, Joe R. Lansdale writes something, it doesn't matter if it's horror, crime, or whatever. I'm interested.
Andrea Judy: I love writing action adventure dark types of stories. While I also love reading horror and action adventure, I really enjoy reading romance. I love these because the happily ever after is soothing, the stories are fun, and it gives me an uplifted feeling after I've read them.
Lee Houston Jr.: I mainly read science fiction, fantasy (and despite the commercial applications, these are two separate genres), mysteries, and superheroes. I have written short stories in all four genres, but as far as books are concerned, I've combined science fiction and mysteries to create Hugh Monn, Private Detective and the Alpha series is my contribution to superhero novels. For whatever reason(s), I've yet to write a fantasy novel, or do something in science fiction or mysteries independent of the other genre book wise.
H. David Blalock: Speculative fiction. Both.
I actually read more nonfiction than I do fiction, depending on the day. I love learning, and I like gleaning things that may help my own writing. That being said, in genre fiction I tend to read a lot of dark fantasy and a lot of comics and manga, but I also delve into cozy mysteries and chick lit/romance, too - it actually depends on the time of year: I have a definite dark mode and a definite fluffy mode. I think authors need to read everything - or if not everything, they absolutely cannot only read the genre(s) they write in. That may keep the focus on your genre(s), but it also really keeps a small circle of things you could be influenced by. Because I tend to embrace everything when I write, I suppose I have no trouble embracing everything when I read.
Stephanie Osborn: I have several fave genres: SF, fantasy, mystery, science. And those are pretty much what I also write.