What is my genre?
Often I get the question in which genre I write. In America, it’s easy. There’s a genre that’s not very well known but gaining popularity: Visionary Fiction. Most people take that answer for granted. Sometimes they ask what it is.
It can be difficult as a writer to determine which genre you belong to. Just stick a label on it and that’s it. But my stories are not thrilling enough to be a thriller, not fantastic enough to be a fantasy novel, not romantic enough for romance and not Young Adult enough for YA. Besides, YA is different in that it only says something about the age category for which the book is intended.
And so there are many genres and sub-genres that my stories do not belong to. A bit of this and a bit of that. I could even call it literature and get away with it. When your manuscript is picked up from the slush pile by the traditionally very literary Amsterdam-based publisher Van Oorschot—as happened a long time ago with my manuscript that eventually was published as Cajú—you may infer that it has some literary content.
The collaboration with Van Oorschot was of great value for my self-confidence, but unfortunately did not lead to a contract in Old Amsterdam. There was a ghost in my novel. There were passages with paranormal events. They had to be removed and I listened well. However, it didn’t make the story any better. Sometime later, I concluded, supported by feedback from readers, that those passages were strong and uniquely mine.
It is what comes out of my pen. I read Alice in Wonderland or watch Pan’s Labyrinth and I’m in dreamland. There will always be a good dose of spirituality in my stories. It is the greatest common denominator of my work and an inexhaustible source of inspiration in daily life. I am searching because I don’t pretend to know the answers. The fact that I examine different cultures, as an anthropologist would, only makes it more exotic. My stories rarely happen in one time and in the same place. There is always traveling going on, which is not surprising for a writing globetrotter.
The downside of all this is that you can wave the big publishers goodbye. Spirituality, paranormal matters: they won’t dare; it is not literary and furthermore not intellectual. If you write spiritual non-fiction, there is a large range of publishing houses that you can go to. Yoga books, self-help books, reincarnation, spirituality; they’re all over. If you write Visionary Fiction, a publisher won’t waste his time. I got lucky with my Dutch titles; they were picked up by publishing house Kramat, Belgium. I decided I had to self-publish my English work.
Visionary fiction is a fiction genre with New Age or mind, body, spirit themes and perspectives, including consciousness expansion, spirituality, mysticism, and parapsychology (Wikipedia). I’m a member of the Visionary Fiction Alliance on the Internet and of a Facebook group. It is also increasingly common in social media.
Dreamlike, spiritual journeys in different realities – as in my latest book The Girl in the Web – can also be found in famous books, by a celebrity like Paolo Coelho in The Alchemist; or author William P. Young in The Shack; or James Redfield in The Celestine Promise. These books, like The Girl in the Web, question reality as we know it and also show the power of synchronicity.
My novel focuses on the spirituality of the Lakota Indians, a vision quest. It shows that if we leave our body temporarily – as my main character Iris does – we notice that consciousness is immortal and, more importantly, the only reality. We come to new insights and ideas, and also adjust to the collective consciousness. As such, Visionary Fiction can yield a beautiful, exciting plot in a new reality. Like the body of the little girl is found in The Shack; like the shepherd boy Santiago finds his destiny in The Alchemist; so Iris finds evidence of her life purpose in The Girl in the Web.