Since becoming Senior Editor of Piatkus Fiction, this is the single question I’ve been asked the most. It’s a problematic one, as unfortunately nobody really knows! Who could have seen Fifty Shades and Erotica coming? (really sorry, couldn’t resist!), or predicted Twilight and the subsequent vampire explosion? As a result, my (slightly cheaty) response to this question has usually been to ask the room what they’ve read recently and secretly add any new-sounding genres to my ‘to read’ list, which has meant I’ve discovered all kinds of new niches . . .
The romance market has blossomed over the last few years, which means more romance fans and more new, exciting, niche genres than ever before. Having done my sneaky research via picking the brains of readers, I thought that I would take you through a few of my favourites, both those that seem to me to be gaining ground and also those that readers I’ve spoken to have been particularly passionate about:
This is a really interesting new style of romance story that I have a particular soft spot for. It’s a great blend of the dark, emotional, angsty themes that make good Young Adult fiction so universally appealing, with the sexier, grittier, edge of an adult romance novel. The hero and heroine tend to be 18+, out of school but still at the beginning of learning who they are and who they want to be. This allows the authors to give their story all the intensity of first love and coming of age but with more explicit sex, and heftier relationship baggage – at their best, New Adult books are absolutely unputdownable – a deeply emotional, sexy, exciting roller-coaster. I’m delighted to say that we have just taken on our first New Adult author at Piatkus – check out A.L. Jackson for a great example of New Adult at its best.
My name is Anna Boatman and I am addicted to dragons. I’m a huge Game of Thrones fan and a general fantasy geek, so mixing the awesome fantastical power of dragons with a unique world and a compelling romance is my idea of fiction heaven. After George R.R. Martin’s immense success, I’ve been waiting for tons of dragon submissions, which sadly haven’t yet materialised! I have, however, recently taken on a wonderful author called Lindsey Piper, whose series, The Dragon Kings is erotic, bloodthirsty, totally fresh and honestly, unbiasedly brilliant.
All serious genre romance readers seem to love Steampunk, and most editors I speak to also love Steampunk. The problem is that not many readers, currently, seem to be actually buying Steampunk, For those who haven’t come across it before, Steampunk is a glorious mash up of Historical fiction with steam power and clockwork machinery. It’s usually set either in an alternative Victorian London or in the Wild West, and is a dark, clever, wonderful world, with so much potential to explore romance and characterisation, I really hope one day that it will begin to reach more of the mainstream. This year’s Romance Novel Association saw Leisel Schwartz’s Steampunk title Conspiracy of Alchemists win one of the main awards, so perhaps we’re on the way. Piatkus doesn’t have a Steampunk author yet, so I’ll be on the lookout for new and promising authors in this genre.
That’s my very brief round-up finished – do let us know if you have any questions, or if I’ve missed out your favourite new genre. In the meantime, I hope the writing’s going well for all of you – I can’t wait to discover even more new types of romance fiction when judging the competition!