Mix and Match
I’m a fan of mix-ups, mash-ups, and cross-overs. I love it when a book or film combines elements from different genres to create a story. So I asked my fellow Missdemeanors, if you were going to write a mash-up or cross-genre novel, what two genres would you combine? (For example, western and crime fiction, romance and sci-fi,…) Bonus question, Why? PaulaShort answer for me: Unless I had a really high-concept idea, I wouldn’t do it. Because as an agent I know how hard it is to sell mash-ups. If you have a really high-concept idea, or if you are truly creating a new genre, then it’s easier. But that’s lightning in a bottle—and a high bar to meet. MicheleI’m afraid I’m pretty traditional and am unlikely ever to write a mash-up. As far as cross-genre goes, combining romantic comedy with traditional mystery is about as daring as I get. Why? Because that’s what I like to read. SusanI did actually do that when I wrote a novel that combined time travel, mystery and Anne Boleyn. I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that her execution was postponed by a day, giving her an unexpected day of life, and that opened to me all sorts of magical possibilities. Also, because so little is actually known about her–even her year of birth is a matter for dispute–it seemed to me that there was a lot of room to explore her character. However, what Paula says is absolutely true. It’s hard to sell. RobinI’m taking this question as a fun thought experiment rather than an actual career goal. With that in mind, I’d write a musical cyber thriller. Something like Wicked or Frozen but about sibling hackers, one who works with law enforcement and one who’s a criminal, then juxtapose them by circumstances. All set to a peppy soundtrack. There’d be a big ensemble number in the second act, like the reprise of “Tonight” in West Side Story, where all the main and secondary characters sing about the impending showdown and their goals or fears about how it’s going to turn out.Why? Because, hey, maybe I could persuade Lin Manuel Miranda to collaborate AlexiaI would totally buy tickets to your cybercrime musical. Orchestra seats. AlisonLove this, Robin! I can completely imagine sitting in The Gershwin Theatre watching your musical.Hmmm. I fall in the same camp as Michele. I can’t imagine writing anything other than traditional mysteries. Having said that, I like the idea of a future history mystery. I’m drawn to playing with “what ifs.” What if a Supreme Court decision had come down differently? What if a war never started? What if an election went the other way? I spent most of my twenties studying political science and international relations where there’s a long and illustrious history of academics writing science fiction (think George Orwell). A mash up can be great reading, but I’m not likely to be the one writing it. AlexiaI’d combine mystery with sci-fi or fantasy. Because you can add a dead body to almost anything (except maybe romantic comedy) and, voila, you’ve got a whodunit. With robots and rockets it’s a sci-fi whodunit. (Philip K. Dick comes to mind.) With dragons and magic it’s a fantasy whodunit. I take back what I said about romantic comedy. I can picture dead bodies involved. Foul Play, with Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase is one of my favorite rom coms. PaulaMine, too! RobinAlexia, you said it before I could – romcom + dead body = Foul Play.The more I think about the musical idea, the more fun it sounds. Writers can be EGOTs, right? Maybe that should be a goal after all 😀 TraceeI’m part of the straight and narrow….. mystery with RomCom or history. And I’ll add that every good story has a mystery at its heart so it doesn’t to be a traditional mystery.Alison, your mention of altered future made me think about my love of history. I did enjoy Stephen King’s altered version of the death of JFK, but I’ve not been a big fan of other altered past/future stories. I’m not entirely certain why. Maybe because once we alter then the permutations are endless so why now that specific future. On the other hand it is more likely because history (good old fixed in time) is already so flexible with interpretation and revised information that it’s enough for me! But if you write one, I’ll be sure to read it!