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  • Writer's pictureSheila Norton

'Up Lit'

I’ve sometimes felt a little bit stumped when people ask me what genre I’d describe for the novels I’m writing now. I’ve seen them described as Contemporary Fiction, Contemporary Romance, and Contemporary Women’s Fiction (a bit sexist, that one!) – among others. On Amazon, I’ve even seen them categorised as ‘Medical fiction’ – perhaps because one was set around a vet’s surgery!

Well, my latest books are certainly contemporary. And they’re certainly fiction! And yes, they tend to have female protagonists (but male characters too), and they tend to have some romance in them. They also all have a setting of a village or small town in the countryside or by the sea, somewhere where the pace of life tends to be a bit slower than average and where people mostly know each other. The stories are fairly gentle, and even though they do often include some sad or difficult parts, they have a happy or very hopeful ending. And they all have some pets either as main characters or in the background – if not both! I’ve heard the expression ‘pet lit’, which is quite nice but does rather neglect the fact that the stories are mostly about the human characters, however strong a part the pets might play!

Recently, though, I’ve heard of another new category: ‘Up Lit’. It sounds a little strange, but apparently it’s used to describe books which leave the reader feeling happy – ‘uplifted’. Where the settings might be a little idealistic (I do know small towns and villages aren’t always as friendly and charming as my stories portray them!), the characters might end up somewhat unrealistically Happy Ever After (in real life, who does?), and the pets are all loveable in the extreme and somehow able to communicate with their humans . . . but at least they take the reader away from the problems and worries of their lives for a little while.

I like thrillers as much as anyone. I enjoy a good murder story, and I’m happy to read really moving, sad stories that make me cry – if they’re a good read. But in between, it’s often a relief to relax with a book that simply tells a nice story about characters who overcomes their problems – with the help of friends, family, idyllic areas, and perhaps a furry friend or two! So I’m pleased to hear that ‘Up Lit’ has become particularly popular during these troubled times, with politics in disarray, crime on the increase, depressing news everyday and everyone worried about what’s to come. Don’t we all need a little light relief? I’m happy to provide my readers with a few hours of unashamed escapism, and I don’t really mind what it’s called. But ‘Up Lit’ does fit the bill quite nicely.

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