Sunday, 24 September 2017

Turning to Crime

Whodunnit? Who knows?
I think I may be having a mid-life crisis. Not the normal sort — I don’t feel any urge to buy a Harley Davidson, have a fling with a tomboy or go to India to find myself. It’s a writer’s crisis. And actually it isn’t really a crisis. It’s just a need for change.

I write romance. That’s because I like a happy ending. But romance, like every other genre, has its rules and if you strain too hard against those rules your audience don’t like it. In a sense that’s the problem of genre, and genre is something I’ve always struggled with. But still I write romance. Sometimes it’s contemporary romance. Sometimes it’s new adult romance. Sometimes it’s romantic suspense. Once I struggled against genre and shimmied into mystery/women’s fiction, but it was still romance.

Though I like my happy endings and suspect I always will, I’ve recently felt the need to try something different. I’m having a flirtation on the side with women’s fiction, but does anybody really know what women’s fiction is? And something’s happened. A couple of people have asked me if I write crime. 

Of course I said no. In my head, crime involves hard-drinking, hard-swearing men without souls, and unflinching descriptions of gruesome violence and eventual, unavoidable death. But I love reading crime and the crime I read isn’t too grim. I read detective novels, with a fondness for the classics of the 1930s, and I love cosy crime. 

When I thought about it I realised that I’ve always written crime. My first ever attempt at a novel (that is, something longer than a couple of thousand words) was about a stolen ruby. Later I moved on to a cold war thriller which found subsequent expression in a psychological suspense based around a man who killed his best friend. None of these will ever see the light of day: they’re too ill-formed and badly plotted, though in all of them there are characters who will reappear. My second book, which I considered romantic suspense, centres on a murder. My current series of romantic suspense book features a detective as its hero. 

Reader, if this isn’t crime, what is?

In the past my view of myself as a romance writer has held me back. I’ve allowed it to tie me to genre. I’ll never give up on romance but I’m not going to be tied to it. 

I’m turning to crime.   

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