On Writing Genre Fiction

by Nicole Trilivas

“I was writing against my education and my upbringing. I was writing against reality itself — I was breaking rules, and not just the literary kind but the thermodynamic kind, too. It felt forbidden. It felt good. Better than good: it was the most profound, intense writing experience I’d ever had. The icy grip of reality on my fiction cracked, and a torrent of magic came rushing out…

It was as if all my life I’d been writing in a foreign language that I wasn’t quite fluent in, and now I’d found my mother tongue. It turned out I did have a voice after all. I’d had it all along. I just wasn’t looking for it in the right place.”

–Lev Grossman, Finding My Voice in Fantasy

This was a lesson I had to learn the hard way. After writing two literary and dark novels that went exactly no where, I finally decided to write something “commercial.” I was in a bitter, bad place when I made this choice: I was sick of myself. Sick of the chill and darkness of my stories, and sick of how they still sat on hard drives unread. And so I rebelled against this by writing something lively, something sweet and fun about the one constant in my life that always made me happy: Travel.

And this was how my love of travel saved me again.

In even just writing about travel I found my salvation. When I wrote Girls Who Travel I understood I was writing in my mother tongue. The words came easy. I was faking it in the past, trying to be this imitation Iowa’s Workshop grad. I found my way back home. And I am happy here.