Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Nuances of Genre

I currently have two cozy mystery series on store shelves. They have both been generally well received, but some readers have expressed dismay that one series (which begins with the book A Dark and Stormy Murder) is not a traditional cozy. The book and its sequel, therefore, disappointed them.

This is fair; the traditional Classical mystery which eventually birthed the "cozy" genre does have certain distinctive features. Because writers are creative and like to put their own spin on things, however, there are diverse definitions of cozy these days, and genres have formed within genres as authors seek new territory and topics that haven't been mined by others.

These books in the Writer's Apprentice series have many cozy elements; small town, "cozy" relationships between characters, an isolated setting, picturesque scenery, a romantic entanglement, cute animals, and a "cozy" occupation for the main characters (writing).

In addition to being cozy, though, the books were meant to be an homage to the great romantic suspense novelists of the mid-twentieth century, particularly Mary Stewart, Phyllis A. Whitney, and Victoria Holt. Elements of the Gothic have been woven in as a part of this tribute, and so some people were disappointed to find that the books felt more like romantic suspense than like cozy mysteries. Other readers never noticed any deviation from the cozies they've read in the past; I think it all depends upon the reader's focus and criteria.

In any case, writers can only write their vision and hope that people enjoy the story that emerges. There will be at least one more Writer's Apprentice novel, and it will continue the romantic suspense tribute-based style (the final book is dedicated to Victoria Holt). The next book, a culmination of the story that has been building over two novels, will be titled A Dark and Twisting Path.

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Transitioning into Summer

Last Sunday my husband and I attended our final high school graduation. We listened, in blistering heat, as almost 900 names were read and the young people, dressed in black suits and white dresses, approached the dais for their diplomas. It was bittersweet, as these events always are.

Sweet because my son and his classmates worked hard to get to this day, and they were proud.

Sweet because it's wonderful for my son to contemplate the wide open future and the limitless possibilities for his life.

Sweet for his parents because we succeeded in guiding him to this milestone and helping to form him into the nice, funny, smart person he is today.

Bitter because I will never drive him to school in the morning again, chattering with him about silly things and discovering new pieces with him on the Classical music station.

Bitter because two of the students who should have received diplomas with my son did not live to see their graduations; their parents were there to accept their diplomas for them. How brave of these parents to come to this event in the midst of their grief, and how humbling to the rest of us and our inconsequential problems to see this reality of life: that nothing is guaranteed to us, not even those we love.

This summer will be a transitional one for our family. My eldest son will visit Europe for the first time (the first in our family to do so!), and when he returns he will be looking for a job and an apartment. My younger son will be working to claim the space his brother leaves behind and to gear up for his college career. And my husband and I, like zillions of parents before us, will have to get used to a house that is quiet far more often, and a life that is so, as well.

This, too, will be bittersweet. But just as the future is limitless for those graduates, it is limitless for all of us. 

We just have to ride those waves of transition and find the peaceful waters we can enjoy.