The Making of a Cross Genre Writer by Lou Kemp – Guest Post and Giveaway

This post is part of a virtual book tour organized by Goddess Fish Promotions. Lou Kemp will be awarding a $25 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Click on the tour banner to see the other stops on the tour.

The Making of a Cross Genre Writer

The definition of a cross-genre book is a book that blends themes and elements from two or more different genres.

In the 1990s, I repeatedly found that it was a kiss of death to submit a book with more than one genre to a literary agent. The typical response came back as, “A great idea, and I loved it. But I can’t sell it.”

That point of view continued until the early 2000’s when a boutique agency took a chance on my combination adventure, mystery, horror, fantasy novel. As others had predicted, it didn’t sell and still received “we love it but forget it, no one will buy it” responses, only this time from the big publishing houses. I understood: you can’t change a buyer’s preference.

What changed? Over the last twenty years, the market and perceptions have gradually transformed. This is fortunate because as a stubborn writer who loved what I wrote, I persevered. I had to have the freedom. There is a term for writers who do not outline and make it up as they go, and I’m a proud “pantser” i.e. flying by. Just as the confines of an outline would kill my imagination, so would limiting my books to one genre.

Having fantasy, adventure, a smidge of romance, mystery, and a giant dose of magical realism at my disposal allows me to do anything I want and keep my readers guessing and happy. There are readers who are ready to go beyond formula plots and crave something new. If they are open to trying fantasy, they may not want full-blown sieges of castles with fairies dancing in the air. Yet, if a magician is a believable and flawed character, and who is also lovable, they will try magical realism. Jonas Celwyn is that character, warts, magical practical jokes and all.

If you want more background, the growing trends in cross—genre writing continue in this article.

A great reference is Diane P. Freedman’s, An Alchemy of Genres (1997)

It’s 1865 and three close friends; the immortal magician Celwyn, the automat Professor Xiau Kang, and Bartholomew, a scientist and widower from Sudan, set out on another adventure as they travel to Singapore to fetch the professor’s wife. Prepare to explore a world reminiscent of our own yet filled with magic and steampunk!

Their private, magically enhanced train, the Elizabeth, is carrying them through the countryside when they witness the purposeful crash of a hot air balloon next to them. Jules Verne emerges from it and joins their party. As they continue east, the danger following the author shadows their train, and the murders begin. When they arrive in Singapore, Captain Nemo uses a unique method to trick Professor Kang into climbing aboard the Nautilus.

Music Shall Untune the Sky is a steampunk fantasy filled with murder, magic, and adventure.

Enjoy an Excerpt

The sun rose, glinting off the ornate cornices and brass crossbeams of the Prague Opera House. A murder of crows hovered over the top of the dome; their plaintive cawing as articulate as words.

“Francesca is most angry. Somehow, she knew Christina had died.” Kang shielded his eyes against the glare. “I believe she is the loudest one with the long neck.”

Celwyn sat beside him on the rim of the fountain, shivering under the shadow of the dome and too shocked over Christina’s death to even cry. He’d only begun to know her and her inner beauty. Later he would ask himself if he was the reason she had been killed or because the witches of Prague had a longstanding feud with vampires., The way Christina was murdered would make it worse. Too exhausted to stand, he watched the crows for a moment.

“Agreed. She has every right to be angry at Delgado and the rest of them.”

The magician couldn’t help glancing across the street to the Vltava River running swift and dark through the city. In the last few hours, he had made sure Delgado would never hurt someone he loved again; but in the end, he had been too late to save Christina.

The sun rose higher, spreading light over the city. The aroma of cooking fires reached them as the residents prepared to greet the day, and a forlorn siren wailed in the distance, competing with the cawing of the crows who circled, pecking at the magically enhanced net dangling from the spire.

About the Author:Early work was horror and suspense, later work morphed into a combination of magical realism, mystery and adventure painted with a horrific element as needed.

I’m one of those writers who doesn’t plan ahead, no outlines, no clue, and I sometimes write myself into a corner. Atmospheric music in the background helps. Black by Pearl Jam especially.

More information is available at I’d love to hear from you and what you think of Celwyn, Bartholomew, and Professor Xiau Kang.


2009 The anthology story Sherlock’s Opera appeared in Seattle Noir, edited by Curt Colbert, Akashic Books. Available through Amazon or Barnes and Noble online. Booklist published a favorable review of my contribution to the anthology.

2010 My story, In Memory of the Sibylline, was accepted into the best-selling MWA anthology Crimes by Moonlight, edited by Charlaine Harris. The immortal magician Celwyn makes his first appearance in print.

2018 The story, The Violins Played before Junstan is published in the MWA anthology Odd Partners, edited by Anne Perry. The Celwyn series begins.

Present day My new publisher, 4 Horsemen has reissued book 1 of the Celwyn series: The Violins Played before Junstan. The remaining books in the series; Music Shall Untune the Sky, The Raven and the Pig, The Pirate Danced and the Automat Died, The Wyvern, the Pirate and the Madman will debut, beginning in 2023 -2024. The companion book, Farm Hall, will be reissued in 2023 where readers will see more of Pelaez, another immortal magician and Celwyn’s brother. Another companion book, The Sea of the Vanities is due out in 2023.


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  1. Thanks for hosting!

  2. Good morning! I hope you have time for fun, and maybe a bit of reading today. A big shout out to Goddess for arranging this book tour. They are very good at tours and promotions. Also a thank for to this site for hosting. I’ve visited here for other books in my series, and love the set up. Please feel free to ask any questions about the Celwyn series or Music Shall Untune the Sky, book 2. There are other upcoming the series too.

  3. Bea LaRocca says

    Thank you for sharing your guest post, bio and book details and for offering a giveaway, I enjoyed reading about your journey to becoming a cross-genre author and I am looking forward to reading Music Shall Untune the Sky.

  4. This sounds like a really interesting read!

  5. Bea and Sherry, thank you so much. At my site,, feel free to leave any questions. Book 3 will be out in a month or so, and a companion book will follow.

  6. The excerpt was intriguing and the cover is wonderful. Can’t wait to read this one!

  7. The book sounds very intriguing. Great cover!

  8. great post. very interesting

  9. What authors inspire you, if any?

  10. Eva Millien says

    I enjoyed reading The Making of a Cross Genre Writer and I enjoyed the excerpt, Music Shall Untune the Sky sounds like an exciting book for me to read and I like the cover!

    Thanks for sharing it with me and have a terrific day!

  11. Do you have any plans for Valentine’s Day this year?

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