Meanland: literature, genre and the digital age


In the online world, science fiction and fantasy, thrillers and romance rule supreme. Much-maligned genre fiction is seemingly better placed to survive in the new world order than prestigious literary offerings. Why is it that writing as ‘art’ is struggling to make the transition.

What does this mean for writers working in the field? Will the digital see the death of the literary? Will all writers eventually turn to genre for survival? In this final Meanland event for 2011, Jacinda Woodhead guides Myke Bartlett, Louise Swinn and Lili Wilkinson through a discussion which covers their distaste for the term ‘literary’, the alternatives that may exist, and how the digital era has affected the relationship between genre and literature.

They talk about authors online and whether they’re now obliged by publishers to create audiences, with Sleepers Publishing’s Swinn admitting that some authors are not well-suited to those expectations and that Sleepers does not have a policy of asking writers to engage online by default. Wilkinson, who was charged with managing the Inside a Dog site for teen readers, explains the differences between creating an audience as an organisation rather than as a writer.



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