Writing a book is difficult, so writing a lot of books? That is impressive. But writing a lot of different books, in a lot of different genres, across formats and age categories? I am in awe. While I think there’s nothing wrong with authors sticking in the same genre or age category, I do have a lot of respect for authors who genre hop and are able to write well for audiences of all ages. Writing a picture book is not the same thing as writing a fantasy novel for adults (a picture book might be more difficult, actually), and on top of the craft challenges, there’s also the unique challenge of getting published across genres and categories. Most readers might assume that if you’ve been published once, it’s easier to get published again, but that’s so not the case. It can be even more difficult and risky for some authors to put out something completely new, and hope that their existing audience will follow, or that they’ll find a new audience.
I’m amazed by authors who’ve made a name for themselves in multiple areas of publishing, and who continue to keep readers on their toes by switching it up! If you like to read widely, then check out these ten authors with tremendous range!
Jacqueline Woodson is one of the greatest living American writers, and she has more than enough awards to prove it. She’s been the recipient of the National Book Award (and been shortlisted multiple times), the Newbery Honor, the Coretta Scott King Award, the Hans Christian Anderson Award, the Margaret A. Edwards award, and she’s a MacArthur Fellow, plus many more accolades. She’s known primarily for her middle grade and YA works, but she also writes adult literary fiction, picture books, and poetry. Start with Brown Girl Dreaming (middle grade verse memoir), If You Come Softly (YA), Red at the Bone (adult fiction), or The Day You Begin (picture book).
What’s exciting about Sarah Gailey is that although they don’t have a vast number of works published (yet!), they are a master at genre-bending, and their work has the most intriguing hooks. They’ve won the Locus, Hugo, and Nebula Awards for River of Teeth, an alternate history novella that imagines what the U.S. would have looked like if Congress had followed through on a plan to introduce hippos into the south. Since then, they’ve published more adult novels and novellas as well as a YA novel. For adults, Magic for Liars is a fantasy/mystery and The Echo Wife is a sci-fi/domestic thriller. YA readers will enjoy When We Were Magic, about a group of teen girls who possess magic and what happens when it goes awry.
Neil Gaiman has written over 50 books and comics, and has received too many awards to list here. Some of his most notable awards include the Bram Stoker Award, the Newbery Medal, the Carnegie Medal, and the Hugo and Nebula. Most of his work is fantasy fiction, although he’s also written picture books and nonfiction in addition to many comics and short stories. He’s the author of the Sandman comics, and with Terry Pratchett he wrote Good Omens. Sandman is a great place to start if you want to read his comics, and pick up Stardust (young adult), American Gods (adult), Coraline (middle grade), Fortunately, the Milk (young readers), and Chu’s First Day of School (picture book).
Silvia Moreno-Garcia writes adult fiction, but each of her books hops genres and blends multiple genres in a really exciting way. Her first foray into publishing was short stories, and she’s a writer and publisher of weird fiction. She’s been nominated for the Nebula, Locus, and Bram Stoker Awards, and she gained a huge following with the publication of her horror novel, Mexican Gothic. Many of her books are set in Mexico, where she was born, and they often combine historical fiction with other genres (fantasy, noir, horror) in a thrilling way. Start with Gods of Jade and Shadow (historical fantasy) or Mexican Gothic (horror).
Roxane Gay might be best known for her essay collection Bad Feminist, but she’s a prolific writer of novels, short stories, nonfiction, and comics. In addition to writing widely and prolifically for online magazines and publications, she’s the editor of Gay Mag, and she’s edited essay collections. If you’re looking to explore her body of work, pick up Bad Feminist (essays), Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body (memoir), An Untamed State (fiction), Difficult Women (short stories), or World of Wakanda (comic series, co-written with Yona Harvey).
Stephen Graham Jones
Stephen Graham Jones is a Blackfeet Native American writer who has written over 20 books and novellas, and numerous short stories. He’s won the Bram Stoker Award and Ray Bradbury Prize for his fiction, which ranges from speculative to horror, and his work is taught widely in academic settings. Pick up The Ones That Got Away (short stories), Mapping the Interior (novella), or The Only Good Indians (horror).
Ursula Vernon/T. Kingfisher
Ursula Vernon is a writer and artist known for her fiction, short stories, and comic series. Her career started with the children’s series Dragonbreath, and she began publishing under T. Kingfisher to avoid confusing parents and kids who enjoyed her work for young audiences. Her work under T. Kingfisher is mostly for young adult and adult audiences, and ranges from fantasy to horror. She’s also the creator of the webcomic Digger, which won a Hugo Award. For works published under Ursula Vernon, start with Hamster Princess (for young readers). For works published under T. Kingfisher, pick up The Seventh Bride (fantasy), The Twisted Ones (horror), or The Wizard’s Guide to Defensive Baking (young adult).
Although Akwaeke Emezi has only been publishing since 2018, their work spans genres and age categories, and they’ve received numerous awards and accolades. Freshwater is their debut book, a literary novel that questions the binary definitions of gender and identity. These themes are present in their further work, which include another literary novel (The Death of Vivek Oji), a YA novel (Pet), and a memoir (Dear Senthuran: A Black Spirit Memoir). Looking ahead to 2022, we can expect another YA novel from Emezi and their romance novel debut, You Made a Fool of Death With Your Beauty.
Although Margaret Atwood is best known for The Handmaid’s Tale, a chilling work of dystopian fiction that has only become more well-known with the popular TV adaptation, she’s also written widely in other genres, published short fiction and poetry, and even written children’s books. She’s won Canada’s Governor General’s Award, the Booker Prize, the Hugo Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and many more. There are many different entry points into her enormous body of work, but pick up The Handmaid’s Tale (dystopian fiction), Alias Grace (historical crime), or Power Politics (poetry).
Kekla Magoon has published picture books, middle grade, and young adult novels, and fiction and nonfiction, in addition to short stories. Many of her books have been about what it means to be Black in America, from the Civil Rights era to contemporary times, but she’s also the author of heartfelt romance, such as 37 Things I Love (in no particular order), and middle grade adventure, like the Robyn Hoodlum series, which retells Robin Hood in a dystopian setting. Pick up The Highest Tribute: Thurgood Marshall’s Life, Leadership, and Legacy (picture book biography), She Persisted: Ruby Bridges (young readers), The Season of Styx Malone (middle grade), How It Went Down (young adult), or Revolution in Our Time: The Black Panther Party’s Promise to the People (nonfiction).
Want to explore entry points for a variety of prolific authors? Check out our Reading Pathways archives.