Guest Post: Author Kathryn Barrett on Genre Busting + Giveaway

My guest today is Kathryn Barrett, the author of an unusual and fascinating spin on the Adam-and-Eve story of the Garden of Eden, Temptation. She’s here today to talk about how her love story of a Hollywood actress and an Amish furniture maker (while extremely compelling, see my review for deets) breaks multiple traditional genre concepts in to tell its story.


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The Genre-Busting Book

I never set out to write an Amish romance. Frankly, I’ve never even read an Amish romance.

But somehow I managed to write one, at least seemingly write one.

Temptation is not an Amish romance; it’s a romance set in Amish country, a distinction I wanted to make clear. It features Amish characters, including a main character, Jacob, who is an Amish furniture maker.

Nor is Temptation, like most Amish romances, an inspirational romance (sometimes called Christian romances). In an inspirational romance, a character typically finds their faith (having nearly lost it during the course of the book) at the end. Temptation is, if anything, an anti-inspirational. Jacob does not (spoiler alert!) find his faith in the end. At least, not in the traditional way. I suspect he’s found something much better, but I’ll leave that to the reader’s imagination.

I never set out to write a genre-buster, but when I heard my publisher refer to it that way in an interview, months before Temptation was released, I realized she’d correctly characterized the book.

Temptation by Kathryn BarrettOne of my biggest fears, right before Temptation was released, was that I’d get awful reviews on Amazon, similar to some of Annette Blair’s, from people complaining about the fact that there’s sex in an Amish romance. Her books (which otherwise got very good reviews) feature explicit sex, as does mine, and I could just see the same outraged reviewers labeling my book “trashy” due to its content. So I tried to be clear in the early marketing: don’t expect to find a sweet romance here. On the other hand, the idea of very explicit sex, in this setting and between these characters, is somehow wrong as well. (That comes later, after the epilogue, trust me.)

Genre exists partly because readers want to be reassured when they buy a book that certain conventions are met: a happy-ever-after ending, a solution to the crime, etc. Readers want the comfort of knowing that their worst fears—of a main character dying, for instance—won’t come true. But sometimes we want a little extra in the mix: a police procedural cop who falls in love, a horror novel set in outer space. An Amish romance that doesn’t close the door when the hanky panky starts.

A few months ago some writers were talking about a rumor they’d heard of a new “Amish erotica” sub-sub-genre. We all expressed our shock—such a mismatch of expectations! But I wondered if my book had somehow contributed to that meme. Or is there someone out there writing hot, steamy Amish romance?

Perhaps they didn’t set out to write an Amish romance. Perhaps they’d never even read one…

What are the bounds of genre, and when is it okay to break them? Do readers’ expectations matter? I’d love to hear what readers think, in the comments.

Thanks for having me here at Reading Reality, Marlene, and allowing me to explore the idea of genre.

Kathryn BarrettAbout Kathryn BarrettKathryn Barrett has been writing women’s fiction since the day her youngest daughter left for pre-school. All was going well, until she read a book called “30 Mistakes In Fiction Writing” and realized she was making all of them.

One by one, she’s overcome the mistakes and learned to make a few more along the way. “The best way to learn to write is to write,” she says. “Period.”

Kathryn lives near London in the enchanting countryside of England. When she’s not writing, she’s busy training a rescue dog, tramping around archaeological ruins, and occasionally making wine runs to France. Because nothing fuels the imagination like a good Bordeaux.

To learn more about Kathryn, go to her website, Facebook, and Twitter.



Kathryn is kindly offering TWO giveaways! At Reading Reality, she is giving away an ebook copy of Temptation. The grand prize for the blog tour is a Kindle Paperwhite. Check out both Rafflecopters!

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21 thoughts on “Guest Post: Author Kathryn Barrett on Genre Busting + Giveaway

  1. Thanks for the great post and congrats to Kathryn on the new release! I think it’s awesome that you’ve written something that is “genre busting” 🙂 Fresh ideas/tropes/genres are what keeps us as readers engaged and coming back. I say, do what’s right for the story… the books that I tend to go meh about are the ones that I think are written *for* genre and they become very formulaic and predictable. Blow my socks off! I love it!

    1. Thanks, erinf1, I agree! A lot of books seem to be written to fit that particular genre and are too careful not to stray outside the bounds. As long as the main characters don’t die in the end, I’m okay with stretching the romance genre. I’m glad readers are willing to go outside the bounds, too, so thanks for your comment.
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  2. Thanks so much for the post. I think writers are just brilliant. I don’t know how you come up with the stories that you do…. and do it so beautifully. I am looking forward to reading this. Thanks for the giveaway too!

  3. I honestly will follow a writer to end of the earth if they continue to push boundaries. I get bored with recycled books. 🙂 Break down every wall, baby! 🙂

  4. Thanks for the great post! I believe in genre busting! Why stay in the same old rut? Try some boundary breaking and ground breaking! That is what makes life and reading interesting! Thanks for the great giveaway!

  5. I write literary fiction and run into the problem of “genre” all the time. Literary fiction focuses on character development rather than on plot turns. So it can be very difficult to categorize (market) literary fiction. And yet some of the most successful novels ever are literary novels that cross into genre territory–Umberto Ecco’s THE NAME OF THE ROSE (literary mystery), Elizabeth Kostova’s THE HISTORIAN (literary horror) and A.S. Byatt’s POSSESSION (literary mystery AND romance). What it comes down to is quality writing and telling a great story. Meet those standards and most readers will follow you and your characters anywhere. Carrie.

    1. That’s a great point, Carrie Ann. I’ve read those, and you’re right, they cross over into genre. But good writing is good writing. I particularly love character based stories, in fact, that’s the only way I could write–by creating a character first.
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  6. I love when I discover new authors via book blogs. For me it’s important that authors keep on giving us new material. I say go for it!!!

    Anyway we all know that we can’t please everybody. What’s important is that at the end of the day we know that we gave our heart and soul .

    Thanks for the giveaway! 🙂

  7. Congratulations on your new book, Temptation! The creativity of authors always amazes me. I find it fascinating when an author pushes the boundaries of a genre or writes in several different genres.

  8. TEMPTATION sounds great! I have not heard of any story that is remotely similar to this one and will have to check it out. Congrats on the release 🙂

  9. I love stories that blend and bend genre expectations. The only time I find it problematic is when a book is marketed as a romance but the plot favors another genre and the romance feels secondary to it. Lots of great genres can have romantic elements but romance as a genre means the journey has to ultimately bring a hero and heroine (or some variation there of) together in the end. Great question Kathryn!

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