I am probably the only person in history who has never seen a James Bond movie or read one of the books. James Bond is ubiquitous in our culture, yet I have somehow managed to avoid it. Of course, I've viewed the Austin Powers movies with delight, but that was because I thought they were funny, not because the genre—and it does seem to be a genre unto itself—did anything for me.
I mention this because I took to my Facebook page to ask for input into my next blog. The idea was to get a taste of what people might request of a writer if given the chance. One response I got was James Bond fan fiction. It really got me thinking about conventions of genre and how if I were to write a James Bond-esque story, there would be next to no way I would get it right. But then I thought, why? Why would my story have to be anything like what it's supposed to be based on? Why do I have to copy what came before?
As I was thinking about this, I came across one of those internet cheat sheets on writing. It contained some useful information about things to look for while you are revising, but one thing struck me and I thought I should say something about it. The sheet advised you make sure you have followed your genre's conventions.
I have a hard time describing the genre of my novels, usually saying fantasy, horror, sci-fi, with a dash of romance and thriller. That's because, as useful as the strict conventions of genre are to some writers and readers, I personally find them next to useless. Genre, to me, is a starting point. After you let loose and let the words fly, you should let it take you where it wants to go, no restrictions, no strings attached, no commitments, no labels.
So, if I were to write James Bond fan fiction, even as just a mimicry of the genre, I would write with a license to kill the genre's conventions. That's the only way I care do it, and it is the only way I will do it.