Tropical Fiction – a genre whose time has come!

This is actually a “From the vaults” post, because I’m reblogging most of the original post, Announcing Tropical Fiction – a new genre, from Aug., 2013, with a few changes and an update, after discussing with Tim Baker again about how to best market novels like ours that are set in tropical climes. So, here goes …

I’ve had more than my fair share of ideas in my time – some great, some good, some worth forgetting (although we won’t tell my readers about those ideas, will we, Betty Jane?). No matter what the idea, though, I’ve always tended to think outside the box and come up with a new way of considering every matter at hand.

I was listening to Surf 97.3, Flagler Beach Radio on the Internet recently and the DJ kept talking about all the Trop Rock this station plays. It took me a moment, but then I realized he meant Tropical Rock, beach music – you know, The Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, Jimmy Buffet. And if this can be a category for music then why not …?

Take categorizing fiction, for instance. I have written and published one novel, Island in the Clouds, in a projected series set on the Caribbean island of Bequia, where Dennis and I own a home.


The setting itself is central to the novel. The story would never have been the same had I set it back in Calgary or Toronto or any other place I’ve lived. I know there are many other books like mine that are set in tropical climes and in which that setting becomes very important to the actual telling of the story.

The real property manager reads about a fictional property manager while in the exact same setting as shown on the book's cover! Life imitating art imitating life?

The real property manager reads about a fictional property manager while in the exact same setting as shown on the book’s cover! Life imitating art imitating life?

So, I thought, what if we were to coin a new name for this genre? I came up with Tropical Fiction and, since it was my idea, after all, I’m going to stretch the parameters to include any writing set in-on-or-near, or written by an author who lives within proximity to, a beach. That way, I can include the books of my good buddy Tim Baker who, coincidentally, writes about Flagler Beach, FL, Home of Surf 97.3 for which he also now works as a DJ! (There’s even a beach on the cover of one of his novels, Unfinished Business, so he gets bonus points!) And W.K. Blais who lives near a beach in California. After all, what’s the point of having a great idea if you can’t spread around the benefits among your friends? (Since first writing this, I have created the promotion blog, Reading Recommendations, and have featured both Tim Baker and W.K. Blais there. And Betty Jane Hegerat for that matter, too!)

Here’s the complete description of my new genre:

Tropical Fiction – Set in the Tropics or Written by a Tropics-based Author – The Ultimate “Beach” Read

I particularly like the Ultimate Beach Read part, because what better reading material is there for enjoying a beach visit (or virtual visit) than a book about or set on a beach? I ask you!

A show of hands now … How many of you remember the novel The Beach by Alex Garland, set in Thailand? (I’m not talking about the movie, but the book.) This book fits very well into my new genre, this new category I’m developing. And how about Ernest Hemingway’s To Have and Have Not and The Old Man and the Sea. Or Agatha Christie’s A Caribbean Mystery, Shani Mootoo’s Cereus Blooms at Night and the writing of Dominican-born Jean Rhys. Can you think of any others? Please add the titles below in the comments section.

And let’s start bandying about this new genre classification, okay? I’d appreciate your help with getting the word out so this becomes an accepted name for the style of books that I write , and that many others have written – in the past, currently are writing, and will publish in the future.

Or … if you’ve written a book that fits into this category, please tell us about it, and you! Are you living in a tropical place and writing books? Tell us!! Please post a link below. I would eventually like to collect authors’ names and their titles, and will think of a way to list these links, possibly on a permanent page on this blog. That way, we can promote ALL of these books and this new genre of Tropical Fiction to the world!

And here’s the likely cover we’re going with for my next novel … that’s a photo taken by Dennis at least 20 years ago of Industry Beach on Bequia looking out towards the islands of Balliceaux and Battawia. This view still looks pretty much the same today. (Cover designed by Jenny Ryan!)


(I’d better get that second novel finished and published!!)

10 responses

  1. Hi Susan, Wayne Stinnett put this on Facebook so I love the idea of Tropical Fiction. His two series of books definately belong in that genre. ” Fallen………….” And ” ………. Charity”. There are two other authors I would like to propose.

    One is Dawn Mckenna who has the ” Forgotten Coast” series of 5 books so far. Believe she is working on the 6th. Wayne Stinnett mentioned her in his newsletter/blog and once I read her first book I had to read the rest. Her series has well developed characters, some humor from a wayword rooster named “Stoopid”, and lots of action since the two main characters are a Sheriff and his female deputy, plus an older Southern gentleman from over New Orleans way.

    The last author is also very tropical. Her series ” ……….. In Paradise” is set in the fictional town of Tarpon Cove, at the top of the Keys, and she owns a home on the Gulfside and some little tourists cabins on the Ocean side, so she literally covers both coasts. Her genre would definately be Tropical Fiction, with an emphasis on humor, adventure, action and some Alpha males so it’s a bit sexy too. The main characters are gorgeous, sassy, flirty gals who love a good challange and find themselves up to their holsters in trouble . They are kept busy with a wide cast of quirky characters that anyone who has spent time in the Keys knows and loves or tolerates. They are all the Usual Suspects. I would love to see each if these authors, including Wayne, interviewed and promoted.

    Thank you for posting this, am looking forward to reading your book too.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting! I’m behind time with this post and updated the listings. Thank you for your additional information. I’ll try to get the page updated soon.

    2. Hi Susan, I can’t believe I left Deborah Browns name off as author of the ” …… In Paradise ” Series of 9 books as of 4/20/2016. Her books are incredibly funny and fun, filled with quirky people and wacky situations. Could you possibly amend my comment to add her name ?

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  3. Since you mentioned Jimmy Buffet in Trop-rock, I’ll just add him as a Tropical Fiction author, as well. “Where is Joe Merchant” set in mythical Boomtown, somewhere in the Caribbean, “A Salty Piece of Land” set on the mythical Caribbean island of Cayo Loco.

    I too write in this genre. I’ve called them Sea Stories. Being a Marine, that has a bit of a different connotation. In the Corps a sea story is a “tall tale”, that gets taller with each telling. I’m currently working on the ninth novel in one series and the second in a spinoff series. The first is set primarily in the Florida Keys and the spinoff is set primarily aboard an antique sailing yacht. Both are categorized as Action/Adventure, though they’re more adventure than action.

    1. Thanks for reading and adding your name and Jimmy Buffet’s to the list, Wayne! I’ll let you know when this page I’m preparing is posted and will be happy include your information there.

  4. I love the idea of “Tropical Fiction.” And, gorgeous new book cover too! I can’t wait to read One Woman’s Island. Write, write, write!

  5. It’s an interesting subject, Susan. All success in your second novel. It’s a lovely cover. 🙂 — Suzanne

  6. That’s an interesting category, although I’m not a fan of pigeonholing books. Don’t think I’ve strayed over the tropics, so any of my books would need a sub-tropical category 😀
    I do like tropical reads though 🙂 Looking foward to One Woman’s Island …

    1. No one is looking forward more to that novel being finished as I am … Thanks, roughseas!

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