Con~fusion?

When I was a young mum in the early 1990′s, fusion cooking was all the rage.  Asian or Italian dishes were mixed with typical Auzzie meals and out of the restaurants flowed strange new mixes of foods dishes like dim sum with herby mashed potatoes and pork gravy, or seared scallops on a BLT sandwich, or even specialty fusions such as chocolate coated prawns. Of course, like all fads, fusion cooking passed (thankfully).

What lingered was the strange aftertaste, and a change in the way us Auzzies cook.  Fusion cooking had slipped into our kitchens and I, for one, loved eating something different from tomato sauce on my chops. Instead, they have since been coated with Mediterranean herbs such as oregano and basil, and a squeeze of (real, not bottled) lemon juice, shallow fried in olive oil. Yum! No more overcooked, charcoal BBQ for me. It was as if, after the initial craziness, we as a nation, finally settled on the smaller changes that made big improvements in the flavour of our simple home cooking.

With this in mind I have to wonder about the new mixed-genres appearing in short stories at the moment.  I am not innocent of them, having in recent months written: a sci-fi / ghost story and a  paranormal / drama. But, both times I was definitely discouraged by my fellow writing group members for doing so.

‘You must pick a genre and stick with it,’ one told me.

His explanation had been simple. No one would publish a mixed-genre story.

‘I think you need to cut out all the scenes with the ghost and just run with the drama,’ said another.

Why? Because, I wouldn’t find anywhere to submit the story. Online story sites are, generally for either ‘this’ or ‘that’ genre. It’s as simple as that, isn’t it? But, then I remembered fusion cooking and wondered how long this black and white with no grey in-between mentality would last before the fusion-genre writing fad took off.

What would it bring? Fairy Tales that were truly the horror stories people long suspected them to be. Historical romance novels where aliens take over. Graphic, fiction, teenage-mutant smurfs fighting Godzilla. It could be: brilliant, exciting, new, confronting, wacky; or maybe not.

So, today as I reviewed a fellow writers story about a necromancer, alien slave-child, set in the American prairies of the late 1800′s, I realised I was finally about to get a taste of being a reader of one of these fusion stories.

My heart leapt, here was a person that had dared to stir the pot– to drop the chocolate onto that prawn– and be darn tooting proud of putting their magical boot down.

At first, I enjoyed the wild ride the ‘magus’ boy was having. He was kidnapped by American Indians, and ‘rescued’ by alien slave traders (able to stop him using his powers). Only to be left sitting in a pile of mud on the side of a broken wagon wheel, these wheels having a strong, alien-alloy rim that he used to break his anti-magic restraints with. What I found was that the rollicking, well-plotted story had been ruined by all the extras.

Suddenly, I felt like I had eaten the chocolate covered prawn: disappointed and with my taste buds in a state of confusion.

And so, to my dismay, I wrote the writer and suggested she ‘pick a genre and stick to it’. Not because of any publishing issues, but because it was completely overboard.

Somewhere, deep within the soul of an avid reader, we seem to desire the structure that a genre can bring.  We need the security that comes from picking up a story and mentally judging it as ‘this’ or ‘that’ before we even begin to read it.

‘Nexus 11 chewed chaff beside the wagon as the magus boy tried to break free of his spellbinding ties’—just doesn’t work!

Chocolate and prawns are great on their own, but mixed? Well, I don’t know, but I suspect that no one likes the idea of a eating a chocolate coated prawn. My suggestion is this; next time you think of writing a mixed-genre story- go eat a chocolate prawn. If you can get it anywhere near your mouth, then go for it.

What do you think? Is fusion-writing the way of the future?

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