Some thoughts about a popular young-adult series and the way it “breaks the rules” of the genre got me to thinking about whether there are even any rules to genres. And in some cases it’s clear there are rules. If you write a book where two people fall in love but end up never getting together and being broken hearted, don’t try to call that a romance and send it to a romance publisher. If you write a novel where a crime is committed but no-one ever solves it, I don’t think you could sell it as a mystery novel. If your main character is 65 and there’s no character under 20 who even makes an appearance in your book, it probably won’t sell as YA.
That said, lines between genres are often blurrier than we think, and many very successful books are hard to categorize. So, I talk about that for about five minutes in this video, and include an 8.5 second clip which makes my kids want to disown me. Teenagers are hilarious because they’re so easy to embarrass.