Genre Mash-Ups by Karen Duvall

Genre Mash-ups

You may have noticed that a lot of novels lately seem to defy the genre status quo of several years ago. It’s been happening gradually, beginning with a combination of sub-genres that appear to apply mostly to romance: Paranormal, suspense, historical, fantasy…

9780373803491_SMP.inddToday we’re seeing multiple mash-ups of all kinds of fiction that are not restricted to romance. Science   Fantasy, Paranormal Mystery, Historical Mystery, Alternate History Fantasy, and even Inspirational Horror, just to name a few.

I’ve been mashing up my fiction since before mash-ups were cool, but in the beginning I had poor luck finding publishers for my work. It seemed that no one wanted to risk taking on something so different. I’m sure other factors played into those rejections, but the overall reason had something to do with a blurred definition of genre that crossed several categories. I wrote what I wanted to read, and mash-ups were what I wanted to read.

Fast forward to today, and we have a lot more freedom to write and publish cross-bred mash-ups of countless variety. Small presses have helped bridge the gap between genres, and now that self-publishing is in vogue, we’re seeing more and more fascinating combinations. I love it!

My first mash-up was a futuristic supernatural medical thriller. Yeah, quite a mouthful, but I managed to find a wonderful little press in 2000 (Speculation Press) to publish the book. The title was Project Resurrection and the premise dealt with cryogenics and reanimation. The story attempts to answer the question of where our soul goes after death, and whether or not it can return when the body is brought back to life. It was an ambitious project, but it turned out pretty good and I got a lot of great reviews. However, it was a bit too weird for prime time.

My next experiment was a paranormal friendship reunion mystery. Kind of a Big Chill meets Charlies Angels, but with ghosts and other things that go bump in the night. Okay, okay, you can stop laughing now. I tried. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), this one came close a couple of times, but it never found a home.

Lucky for me, Knight’s Curse, the first book in my Knight’s Curse series, was my sweet spot. It hit all points for the popular urban fantasy market at the time Harlequin Luna bought it. My heroine is a half-angel thief cursed by a gargoyle that wants to either eat her, or turn her into a beast like itself. The story has angels (white as well as fallen), curses, charms, knights, a mummy, fae, sorcery… It’s a mixed bag. In fact, if you’ve ever watched an episode of Lost Girl on the SyFy Channel, that’s similar in tone and style to my Knight’s Curse books.

My latest published project is a mash-up of Romance, Science Fiction and Fantasy, which combine to create a post-apocalyptic tale for Harlequin Luna’s ‘Til The World Ends anthology. My novella is one of three included in the book. I found this one especially challenging because science and fantasy can be prickly bed-fellows, but it works. My novella is called Sun Storm.

Sun Storm Pictorial (1)

Here’s the blurb: After the biggest solar flares in history nearly destroy the planet, Sarah Daggot becomes a Kinetic, endowed by her exposure to extreme radiation with the power to forecast sun storms. And she’s not the only one. Other Kinetics possess different kinetic abilities, and Sarah believes they’re destined to join forces and halt the final onslaught of the sun… before the world ends.


Are there any genres that are too much like oil and water to mix? Inspirational and Erotica would clash as badly as mixing plaid with floral. A Historical Futuristic might sound like an oxymoron, unless it’s Alternate History. In fact, Inspirational is the only genre I can think of that doesn’t mix well with everything. How about a Mermaid Western? Can you think of an unlikely combo? If so, please share.


Lisa Henry and Vimh Visit The Wicked Muse Tavern

Fàilte (Welcome), Lisa and Vimh. It’s a pleasure to have you join us at the Tavern.


Lisa and Vimh visit The Wicked Muse Tavern  

“What the hell are you wearing?” I ask my muse as we stand outside the Tavern.

“What? I’m a tavern wench.”

“Was there a tavern in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century?”

“Maybe.” He preens a little.

“You have glitter in your hair,” I tell him.

“Aw, thanks for noticing!”

Ugh. Muses are tricky creatures. Mine is called Vimh, short for Voice in my Head. He’s bratty, obnoxious, in your face, and probably not ready to play nice inside the Tavern.

“Look,” I tell him as we stand in the cobblestone street. “See that? That’s a gaslight. God, you’re not even trying to fit in.”

“I was going to go steampunk, but I lost my aviator goggles,” Vimh tells me, wrapping one hand around the lamppost and swinging from it. “Anyway, you told me the Tavern was like a cross between the holodeck in Star Trek and the Tardis, so I dressed accordingly.”

I cop an eyeful off his silver shoulder pads and skin-tight lycra. “According to David Bowie as Ziggy Stardust?”

Vimh makes a face. “Are we going inside or not?”

I sigh.

At my side, Vimh fidgets like a kid on sugar.

“Just…” I rake a hand through my hair. “Just don’t embarrass me, okay?”

“I won’t,” Vimh says. “Cross my heart and everything.”


I push open the door and step inside. Vimh floats in behind me on a cloud of glitter.

“Wow,” he whispers as he takes in the décor. “This place is really something. Will there be hobbits?”

Oh god. “Just try to behave, please, Vimh.”

We cross to the bar. In the interests of authenticity, I order a cider. Vimh orders a white wine spritzer with an olive and an umbrella. The barkeep gives him a beer.

“Remember, I’m here to talk about my books,” I warn him.

“My books,” he corrects.

“Fine, our books.”

As much as I hate to admit it, without Vimh whispering ideas in my head and pulling plot bunnies out of his increasingly weird collection of hats, I would never get anything written. And he’s not always this bratty and fey. Sometimes he takes me by the hand and leads me through some very dark places. He surprises me. Sometimes, I surprise him.

“Woah,” he whispered when we’d written The Island. “That is so not where I thought we were going with that! That was some dark shit!”

“I know, right?”

“I like the twist!”

Vimh deals with the inspiration, and I handle the research and the heavy lifting. Most of his inspiration starts when he gets that gleam in his eye, chews his lower lip for a while, and then grins. “You know what would be hot?” he asks, and we’re off.

Vimh says he helped out a lot with Tribute. By that, he means he dressed up in a sword belt and tried out the sling. “Is this working for you?” he shouted at me while I tried to ignore him and keep writing. “Hey, Lisa, I think I’m stuck. Can you get me out of here?”

He was even less help with He Is Worthy. While I was looking up Nero and Latin and slavery in Ancient Rome, Vimh was making a toga out of my bedsheets and a laurel wreath out of hibiscus flowers.

“I didn’t know Rome had a Pride parade,” I told him.

“You’re just jealous that I look so hot,” Vimh sneered.

I was not. Well, maybe a little.

“So you’re co-writing now,” he announced one day. “With J.A. Rock.”

“Yeah,” I said, and showed him. “We’re calling it The Good Boy.”

He narrowed his eyes. “Does J.A. Rock have her own muse?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “I guess so.”

“You’d better not be talking with another muse behind my back.”

“God, Vimh, I would never…look, come and have a read. It’s got spanking. You like spanking, right? And bondage. And Mexican food. And it’s hot, Vimh. It’s even got a character in it that’s a lot like you.”

“Ooh! Is Brin based on me?”

“Yes,” I barefaced lied to him. “Bratty Brin is you all over right?”

But I was actually thinking of the foul-mouthed macaw Mr. Zimmerman.

For Dark Space, Vimh sat beside me as I wrote.

“This is creepy,” he whispered. “Go and turn the light on.”

“You go and turn it on.”

“I can’t,” he said. “The Faceless might get me.”

“Vimh, they’re not real.”

“Neither am I!”

Vimh doesn’t have many existential crises, but when he does they’re doozies. I kind of wish he’d have one now, but no, he’s not going to sulk and run off tonight. He’s grinning around the Tavern madly. He’s in love with the place.

“So,” he says, winking at the handsome Scotsman over by the fireplace, “I might come here more often. Do you think they have karaoke?”

I catch the barkeep’s attention and order another drink.

I have a feeling I’m going to need it.

Lisa (and Vimh’s) most recent release is Dark Space, published by Loose Id:


Brady Garrett needs to go home. Brady’s a conscripted recruit on Defender Three, one of a network of stations designed to protect the Earth from alien attack. Brady is angry, homesick, and afraid. If he doesn’t get home he’ll lose his family, but there’s no way back except in a body bag. 


Cameron Rushton needs a heartbeat. Four years ago Cam was taken by the Faceless — the alien race that almost destroyed Earth. Now he’s back, and when the doctors make a mess of getting him out of stasis, Brady becomes his temporary human pacemaker. Except they’re sharing more than a heartbeat: they’re sharing thoughts, memories, and some very vivid dreams.


Not that Brady’s got time to worry about his growing attraction to another guy, especially the one guy in the universe who can read his mind. It doesn’t mean anything. It’s just biochemistry and electrical impulses. It doesn’t change the truth: Brady’s alone in the universe. 


Now the Faceless are coming and there’s nothing anyone can do. You can’t stop your nightmares. Cam says everyone will live, but Cam’s probably a traitor and a liar like the military thinks. But that’s okay. Guys like Brady don’t expect happy endings. 

The Good Boy, by Lisa Henry and J.A. Rock, is scheduled for release by Loose Id in March.

Lisa lives in tropical North Queensland, Australia. She doesn’t know why, because she hates the heat, but she suspects she’s too lazy to move. She spends half her time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting her escape. She writes m/m erotica.

Vimh lives in Lisa’s imagination.

Welcome to the Tavern, Cari Silverwood.

Voyaging to Byzantium

CS_SC3_SteelDominanceSteel Dominance, Book 3 in the Steamwork Chronicles, released today, Jan 15th. This series is BDSM erotic romance against a steampunk backdrop.

One of the things I get asked often is do you do research for your steampunk stories? Yes, I do, but I often throw out most of what I discover and turn the facts inside out. To me, steampunk is, say, thirty percent based on real earth facts, like the Victorian age, and the rest is from the realm of the imagination. Since the contraptions and machinery in steampunk is unlikely to ever really be buildable, I think magic is a fair explanation of why everything works. Only instead of calling it magic we’re sneaky and throw in some clockwork and steam then, abracadabra, you have clockwork hearts and vehicles, and so on.

In Steel Dominance, I fiddled with names, I use the ancient name of Byzantium for Constantinople, instead of the name that we now recognize, Istanbul, and I created ‘gondolier’ airships.

This is the beginning of Steel Dominance:

To Dankyo, from six hundred feet up, the fleet of spotlighted ironclads in Salonika’s harbor seemed as imposing as rubber ducks in a bathtub. He turned from his sightseeing and wrapped his fingers about the thick gold rope that ran up to the balloon, bracing himself against the push of the wind. The partygoers on this opulent gondolier airship were getting into the mood of these early New Year celebrations. Eleven o’clock by his pocket watch. The overhead blue and yellow voltaic lights swayed and sent shadows tilting.

The ambassador from Byzantium had brought his own entertainment. Two slave girls rose gracefully from their kneeling position at the clap of his hands. Both were veiled beneath their eyes by fine silver mesh. The other guests, in their suits and flamboyant gowns, moved to the edges of the gondolier.

One of the side effects of being an expert advisor for the Hellene government was receiving invitations to soirees like this. So long as he didn’t have to talk, this was pleasant.


Blurb for Steel Dominance:

A brilliant researcher, Sofia must unravel the ancient puzzle of the Clockwork Warrior or her career will be in tatters. Yet the tomb of the warrior is in the dangerous city of Byzantium, inside the harem of the Emperor. She knew she’d have to pose as a slave – but not that her “owner” would be the incredibly bossy, gorgeous bodyguard she’s been assigned.

A life of military duty has left Dankyo unprepared for Sofia. He’s never met a woman quite like this. She’s smart and beautiful, and she’s something that he’s finding almost irresistible – despite the way she fights against masquerading as his slave, she’s submissive right down to the bottom of her soul. And that’s bringing out every dominant instinct in his body.

But even as he realizes she’s captured his heart, the city explodes into madness. Surviving seems impossible. Can love and a Dom who will never give up overcome sheer bloody-minded evil?


I also made up a new name for the ruler, the Emperor-bey, and I made up a bunch of fun things like propaganda-writing clockwork spiders. To me, writing should fascinate me. So whether that’s writing hot BDSM sex scenes or the setting, I make it fun. Sometimes I combine those two.  Like here:

Something small and cold skittered across her backside, leaving lines and dots of pain.

Sofia flinched and swung her head. “What was that?”

From the feel of it, Dankyo had scooped something up. He moved in so his thighs jammed hers into the desk. Then the rhythmic quaking of his body on hers puzzled her a moment. “Are you laughing? What was it?”

“This.” He held a golden metal creature the size of her palm before her eyes.

“Oh!” She jerked her head back. It wriggled…had many legs. And damn, it reminded her of a cross between a spider and a crab.

“It’s a clockie,” Dankyo said. He put a squarish glass jar on the desk, dropped the creature in, and screwed on the lid. “The Ottomans bombard Byzantium with them every Tuesday or so.”

“Ugh.” She peered at it, her thoughts strung between the feel of Dankyo’s body pressing on her and watching the thing scrabbling about in the jar. “What are they for?”

“They write religious graffiti. Don’t worry. It only got as far as G.”

“G? Where?”

“On your ass. G is for God.”

Oh hell. And now he really was laughing. “Damn you! Stop that!” She squirmed about to shout at him, but he only leaned in and squashed her flat with his whole body.

“Shh. Stay there. I’m not finished with you yet.”

And that statement made her freeze. Clockie a foot from her nose, some writing on her throbbing sore ass, but with him on top of her, the world drifted far, far away.

“Mmm. Yes.”

Nothing much happened after that. He lay on her, breathing softly, holding her down, at times playing with her hair. The weight of him was enough to keep her still but not hurt her, enough to keep her from escaping or wriggling, and slowly, like a tide washing in and filling a rock pool, his presence filled her up. A word came to her that seemed to sum up how she felt. Possession.


So don’t be scared of reading or writing steampunk stories, throw yourself in headfirst like I do, and swim hard. You’ll get yourself somewhere and it’s guaranteed to be fascinating, hot, and chock full of shiny ticking gadgets and goggles, and we mustn’t forget the corsets either.

COMMENT below to be in the draw to win an eBook copy of Steel Dominance.

You can increase your chances of winning by also commenting on my Release Party post on the Guilty Pleasures Book Review site on the 16th January.

OR on Lisabet Sarai’s site at

I’ll be pooling together all the comments to pick the winner of the book.

Link to my books page on my website where I will put buylinks such as one to Amazon, and a link to a longer excerpt:



The Wicked Muse Tavern is now open to Guest Bloggers

The Wicked Muse Tavern has been shut down for a while as Ms. MacLean concentrates on finishing up the revisions on her latest book. Since she hasn’t had time to come and visit lately, I’ve decided to open the Tavern to guest bloggers.Social media stamp

The Tavern will be open to guest posts on Tuesdays. Unless a holiday happens to fall on that day. If yer interested in scheduling an appearance at the Tavern, please send all requests to my lovely scribe, Shay MacLean, and I’ll be in touch with ye about the details of the Tavern, it’s inhabitants and what you will be allowed to post. You can reach me at