Five Genre-Busting Fiction Writers You Should Read

Five Genre-Busting Fiction Writers You Should Read

When it comes to reading, I always appreciate the weird. I’m drawn to tales that are on the fringe, stories that are difficult to place within traditional genres. Weird fiction—as a result, calls to me. There’s something about those category-defying stories that make me feel at home. Perhaps you also enjoy stories like this? (If you read and enjoyed my books, I’d wager you did.)

It’s been a while—Halloween, actually—since I’ve given book recommendations. So, let’s rectify that today. Below I’ve shared five authors who write fiction that’s a little hard to pin down. As of this year, whenever I share books, all links will now go to IndieBound instead of Amazon—be sure to support your local bookstore. Also, where possible, I am now linking to each author’s official website. So be sure to give those a visit as well.


"Trail of Lightning" by Rebecca Roanhorse

Rebecca Roanhorse

Recommended Book: Trail of Lightning (The Sixth World #1)

What begins as a gritty desert-focused modern fantasy following a Navajo monster hunter quickly expands into something more—Roanhorse takes the contemporary threat of environmental catastrophe creates a refreshing post-apocalyptic setting in which she places her southwest desert setting. What you end up with is a world that reworks your standard monster-hunting tropes and takes them into fresh and wonderfully strange territory. A fantastic read.

Also by Roanhorse: Storm of Locusts (The Sixth World #2), Welcome to Your Authentic Indian Experience (Short Story)


Fonda Lee

Recommended Book: Jade City (The Green Bone Saga #1)

Transcending your standard genres and weaving an intricate wuxia tale of criminal clans in a pseudo-1980s city, Lee goes in places no other fantasy has before. A story of family, crime, and honor, complete with magic enhanced abilities and kung-fu style action. Here you’ll find complex characters, a visceral world, and a high body count. A perfect blend of genres to create a unique and utterly refreshing experience.

Also by Lee: Jade War (The Green Bone Saga #2), Exo


"All the Birds in the Sky" by Charlie Jane Anders

Charlie Jane Anders

Recommended Book: All the Birds in the Sky

A strange and often surreal tale that weaves together a helping of science fiction, a dash of awkward romance, a smattering of academy fantasy, and a hefty serving of the downright bizarre. It’s hard to truly pin down this tale of love during that awkward twenty-something malaise—it’s been called magic realism, it’s been called fantasy, and it’s something right in the middle. Polarizing it might be, but it’s solidly unique.

Also by Anders: The City in the Middle of the Night


"Winter Tide" by Ruthanna Emrys

Ruthanna Emrys

Recommended Book: Winter Tide (The Innsmouth Legacy #1)

Often it’s easy for series rooted in Lovecraft to slip entirely into the horror genre. However, Emrys takes a different approach. Here she creates a forlorn experience that reexamines the atrocities and ramifications of American internment camps and the Cold War through a slightly stranger lens. History and horror are woven together here in a fascinating (if not polarizing) tale of human nature.

Also by Emrys: Deep Roots (The Innsmouth Legacy #2), Imperfect Commentaries


"Chapelwood" by Cherie Priest

Cherie Priest

Recommended Book: Chapelwood (The Borden Dispatches #2)

Taking the historical account of Lizzie Borden and coupling it with Lovecraftian Horror, Priest manages to create an engaging and wonderfully weird series in The Borden Dispatches. While her first book is delightful, her second is divine. The characters are more established, the plot tighter, the world richer, and the events within more distressing with every page turn.

Also by Priest: The Toll, Brimstone


If you’ve spent any time here, you’ve undoubtedly you’ve heard me sing the praises of one of these authors before. But, perhaps they’re new to you, and hopefully, you find something here to enthrall you, and you’ll discover a new genre-defying world to explore. Have a suggestion of your own? Is there a favorite genre-busting author who’s work you enjoyed? Leave a comment below and let me know!


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

William Faulkner

Read Read Read

“Read, read, read. Read everything – trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it. Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”

William Faulkner


The more I read, the more apparent it becomes to me how well-read an individual writer happens to be when I read them. It’s hard to pin down exactly, more of a general feeling that carries through the work as a whole. It makes me want to push myself to read beyond my own proclivities and focus on reading more/wider/broader.

Also and unintentionally, this is the second December in a row where I’ve shared a Faulkner quote. (Here’s what I shared last year.) Maybe this is becoming a tradition?

Thank You

Thank You

It’s Thanksgiving Day here in the United States, and I wanted to take a brief moment to just say thank you to all my loyal readers. There are millions and millions of books in the world, and I appreciate that you spent some of your time with my weird little series. That means a lot to me. Your passion and excitement are incredibly encouraging. I appreciate all your tweets, emails, and reviews. So, on this day of thanksgiving, I extend my heartfelt thanks to you. You’re the best.

🍂 Happy Thanksgiving! 🍂


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →

Ursula K. Le Guin

The Unread Story

“The unread story is not a story; it is little black marks on wood pulp. The reader, reading it, makes it live: a live thing, a story.”

A few years ago I helped back a beautiful little documentary on Le Guin’s life. If you haven’t seen it, I highly encourage you to seek it out. Le Guin was a fantastic writer and remains an inspiration not only to me but to a thousand other writers. You can view the trailer below.

I <3 Ursula K. Leguin

 

An OryCon 39 Debriefing

An OryCon 39 Debriefing

It’s time for a convention debriefing! A few weekends ago I attended OryCon 39 in Portland, Oregon. It was the smallest convention I’ve attended since 2014’s SpoCon. That isn’t necessarily bad; there are a lot of things to like about smaller conventions. Like Norwescon 40, I attended as a panelist and skipped running a table. So for the OryCon highlights, I think it’d be best to follow in Norwescon 40’s footsteps and break it down day by day.


⛅️ Friday, Day 1

Readings moved to 216
OryCon 39 Readings moved to 216

I left Seattle early and arrived at the hotel around noon. I checked it and saw a fellow author and pal of mine, Elliot Kay. (Go buy his books.) I had a few panels that day. The highlight was the discussion on Checks & Balances: Magic in a Fantasy Setting. My fellow panelists—Elliot among them—were fantastic. The room was full. The conversation was lively. I thought it was great.

Afterward, Elliot and I sat in on Economics in Fantasy. It’s something I thought about a lot while working on Coal Belly, so I was pleased to see it as a topic for discussion. Due to its location near the lobby, the room was a bit noisy, but the panelists were knowledgeable, and I enjoyed the discussion and debate.

I did a reading from The Stars Were Right later that evening. It went well, but it was sparsely attended. Readings had been moved last minute and were in an offshoot room adjacent to a suite. It’s wasn’t ideal. I think it cut down on foot traffic. It was the smallest reading I’ve done. But those who sat in the room seemed to enjoy it, and I had fun.

Afterward, I sat in on another reading and then a reader of mine, and I chatted about the Bell Forging Cycle for a long while. (Thanks, Michael.) I’m always happy to talk about Lovat and the Territories. An excellent way to end the night.


🌤 Saturday, Day 2

Most of my programming was later that day. I grabbed brunch with some good friends and wrote a bit before heading to my panels. The highlight of the day was a tossup between Nanowrimo: What is It, and Why or Why Not? and Fantasy with Non-European settings.

The Nanowrimo panel was lightly attended but was moderated by another friend and fellow author, Lee French. (Go buy her books.) The audience was engaged. I enjoyed everyone’s questions and hearing other’s perspectives. One audience member decided to answer their phone while a panelist was talking and I can’t believe I have to write this: DO NOT DO THIS. It’s rude, and it disrupts others enjoyment of the convention. If you get a phone call, excuse yourself and go outside. It’s respectful to other attendees and the panelists.

Yup it's me, sitting on a panel.
It’s me! Sitting on Fantasy with Non-European settings panel

Fellow author Fonda Lee expertly moderated Fantasy with Non-European settings (go buy her new book, Jade City, I’m reading it right now and quite enjoying it.) The room was full, and I loved the panel. It was the highlight of my convention. The discussion was stimulating, and my fellow panelists were whipsmart. I learned a lot. I also came away with a ton of great reading recommendations.

My pal Sky came north from Portland, and he spent most of the day with me. Together we hit up some panels, one on Audiobook Technique Presentation with Matt Haynes which was great, and another titled Why Urban Fantasy Matters. It’s always good to have someone to discuss panels with afterward, and I’m grateful Sky came out, his presence made the day better.


🌥 Sunday, Day 3

View from my office for three days
View from my OryCon office for three days

My last day was a quiet one. Not uncommon for most conventions, attendees are exhausted and hungover, and things tend to move a bit slower. I only had one panel, Overturning the Cart: Revolution in Fantasy, and it was one of the first for the day. When my fellow panelists and I arrived, we were worried few would show up. But people began to trickle in. While small, it ended up being a pretty damn fine panel. The audience was engaged. The questions towards the end were great. It was a robust way to end my three days at Orycon.


I arrived home tired but feeling pretty good about the convention and the people I met. It’s proximity to the Thanksgiving holiday delayed this post, and the last few weeks have been a whirlwind. If I’m invited back to OryCon, I’d like to get more involved. I’d also like to spend some time gaming. The Call of Cthulhu sessions always clashed with panels, and I wanted to sit in on a game, it’s been far too long.

Smaller conventions are more intimate than their larger siblings, the pace is a bit slower, it’s easier to find parking, panels don’t fill as fast, and attendees are more willing to stop and chat. You don’t feel like flotsam adrift in a sea of SFF-loving bodies. Instead, it’s more akin to a large gathering of friends hanging out and celebrating the stuff they love. You should go next year.

Thanks for a great convention OryCon. I had a blast.


Want to read about my past con experiences from this year? Check out my debriefings from Norwescon 40 and Lilac City Comicon 2017. I’m still planning out my 2018 schedule; have a convention you’d like me to attend? Let me know by leaving a comment or sending me an email. Remember, You can keep track of where I’ll be and check out my previous conventions over on my Upcoming Appearances page.


Dead Drop: Missives from the desk of K. M. AlexanderWant to stay in touch with me? Sign up for Dead Drop, my rare and elusive newsletter. Subscribers get news, previews, and notices on my books before anyone else delivered directly to their inbox. I work hard to make sure it’s not spammy and full of interesting and relevant information.  SIGN UP TODAY →