From Lit Snob to Genre Fan with Kate Belle

‘…there’s a lot to learn from genre fiction.’

Like you, I love to read. Before I started writing seriously my reading tastes were selective, particular even, and very much focused on the literary. I’d even go so far to admit I was one of those deplorable literary snobs. (Actually, I’m not sure that part of me is yet dead – I think it’s just dormant).

Then, as I joined writing courses and groups, I realised two things. There are many excellent non-literary books out there worth reading and, more importantly, my reading choices were limiting my writing ability. I also realised that there are many literary books that weren’t worth my time, no matter how the literary elite heralded their apparent value (mostly because I didn’t have a hope in hell of understanding them).

Part of learning to write was learning to read more widely. The experience of workshopping forced me to read more commercial types of work and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed them. I developed friendships with other writers who wrote in genres I simply wouldn’t have bothered with previously and they exposed me to new writers and books.

I started reading review blogs and writers’ blogs and exploring the ‘commercial fiction’ shelves of the second hand bookshops and discovered there was a lot to learn from genre fiction. Pacing, rounded characterisation, building a compelling plot and the power of simple words. All these things exist in good literary fiction too, of course, but there is a drama to the commercial fiction genre that just grabbed me. Perhaps it’s my Leo personality, but I just love an ‘OH MY GOD’ moment when I’m reading.

Then my first publishing opportunity arrived. For commercial erotic fiction. I knew I could do it because I understood now what commercial fiction readers wanted from their books. So, without hesitation, I prepared a proposal for my agent and submitted it. Within a week she rang to tell me it had been accepted. I had my first publishing contract with Random House’s new digital imprint, Random Romance.

If I’d stuck to my snobbish literary ways, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to try my hand at writing romance. It was a genre I was previously very ambivalent and a bit cynical about. But my years of exposure to different genres had paid off in spades. I loved creating these stories, loved writing them, and really enjoyed knowing where they would end (I’ve always had problems with writing endings).

While I still tend to buy literary types of work for my personal bookshelves, I don’t stick my nose in the air when it comes to commercial fiction. I appreciate that writing quality genre fiction is a worthy pursuit with its own challenges and benefits. And it’s nice to know I can no longer be labelled a snob.


Breaking the Rules: Grace is a beautiful woman in complete control of her world. A long time ago she chose a career over children and marriage, and has never regretted it. Then Ramon Mendez walks into her office. Ramon is about to commence his PhD, a work on erotic literature, and from the outset there is something about him that makes Grace’s blood run hot. Aware of the need to maintain her professional reputation, she rejects his advances, but he persists. And during their intimate supervision sessions, her defenses start to crumble, for Ramon’s work is exposing desires within Grace she never knew existed.

Read a sample chapter.

Breaking the Rules: iTunes & Amazon.


Bloom: Thirty-six-year-old Emma’s life looks as perfect as could be. She loves her solid, straight-laced husband Gary, who has given her three beautiful, if spoilt, children and a secure life. But something is missing. Gary hardly notices her anymore and she feels frumpy and invisible. Her friend, Lisa, talks her into joining a social boot camp class at the local gym. Emma immediately recognises their instructor as the gorgeous runner she sees each evening while walking her dog in the park. He introduces himself as Ramon Mendez. In spite of herself Emma is besotted.

Before long her mind is filled with guilty fantasies of him. One evening, when things at home have become too much to bear, she bumps into him alone in the park. An opportunity presents itself and no one need ever know. Ramon promises and delivers everything that’s missing from her marriage – passion, romance and excitement – but Emma must discover if they are the things she really wants.

Read a sample chapter.

Bloom: iTunes & Amazon 



Kate is a woman of many passions who juggles her pens with the rest of her life. She holds a tertiary qualification in chemistry, half a diploma in naturopathy and a diploma in psychological astrology. Kate believes in living a passionate life and has ridden a camel through the Australian desert, fraternized with hippies in Nimbin, had a near birth experience and lived on nothing but porridge and a carrot for 3 days.

Kate lives, writes and loves in Melbourne, juggling her strange, secret affairs with her male characters with her much loved partner and daughter, and a menagerie of neurotic pets.



Twitter: @ecstasyfiles 

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. While not a Lit Snob, I did read only certain types of fiction – mysteries, thrillers, romantic suspense. Then I won a couple of books, one women’s fiction and another historical fiction. I read these books and another world opened up for me. There are still genres I’ll never be interested in reading, however, I’m a bit more willing to try a genre outside my normal read.

  2. And it’s worth it, isn’t it Karen. I’m actually not a mystery, thriller reader either. Thank goodness for diversity, otherwise we writers would be even poorer!

  3. I think I was very much like you KAte. I had a Honours in English Literature and was trying to push my writing towards the literary but that wasn’t me. I turned my nose up at romance until a friend and I challenged each other to write one and I actually started reading them. Then I fell in love and I think I’ve almost gone the other way now. To be honest, lots of lit fiction BORES me. Yep – I’m a genre snob 🙂 lol

  4. Funny isn’t it Rachael. To be honest, I still lean toward more literary work, but I no longer poo poo genre like I used to – and I’ve learned lots as a result.

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