Stephen King, American author best known for h...
Stephen King, American author best known for his enormously popular horror novels. King was the 2003 recipient of The National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Taken at the 2007 New York Comicon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Who are the authors who successfully switch genres?

The obvious one, of course, is Stephen King. I’ve not read Stephen King much because I tried Christine as a 12-year-old and the book was so huge it put me off books for years. I’d rather have played football. Books were for inactive types, who read about life instead of living one. I also couldn’t get past the ridiculousness of a car being possessed and causing chaos. Anyway, the point is that I thought Stephen King only wrote daft horror novels you could replace bricks with and build a house from.

Years later I saw The Shawshank Redemption, a story as straight as a New York City avenue, and loved it. Then somebody told me it was from a Stephen King short. After telling said person to sort themselves out I checked his theory (after all, some people think that the Spanish pronounce their Cs as th because a Spanish king had a lisp and the population did not want him to feel bad – and if my cynicism on that is ill-founded I will start a bourbon business in Kentucky). Turned out Stephen King writes in multiple genres. Which makes me an ignorant sod.

Anyways, if you want to write books, and you build up a readership, will that readership disappear the moment you switch genres? For example, I write a cracking crime novel to rival Ellroy’s American Tabloid. Readers love it – I get a million books sold and more books in that vein are eagerly awaited. However, after a Cuban cigar and a bottle of Captain Morgan’s I decide that I want to write an epic about talking trees who must unite to save the earth from Brazilian farmers and their chain saws (even after I sobered up). Okay, readers would definitely scram up the nearest drain pipe at that idea, but if I switched from crime to science fiction or romance, what would be the consequences? I’m new to all this – I need to know.