You think of me as a mystery writer, right? But I also write romances. And I’d never read a romance before I accidently wrote one.
Sounds silly right? When I started writing my first NYPD Detective Chiara Corelli mystery, I thought Corelli’s love interest, Brett Cummings, was a man. But when I was writing the scene where they meet, the Brett who showed up on the page, was a woman. I was shocked. I tried changing her back to the man I intended but once she was on stage, I couldn’t go back.
So how does this relate to writing romance? I needed to figure out Brett’s backstory so I wrote a short story that turned out to be a romance. That story led me to read some romances and my imagination led me to write one. I’ve since published three more romance novels, one general fiction novel and four Corelli mysteries.
I generally write two books a year, one mystery and one romance, though last year the non mystery was general fiction, The Disappearance of Lindy James. I enjoy switching back and forth. It stretches my brain and at the same time gives me a chance to relax between the intense and complicated Corelli mysteries. It also allows me to develop characters and situations that wouldn’t work in a mystery.
While I enjoy the flexibility of writing in multiple genres, there are several problems. One I created myself. With hindsight I should have adopted a pseudonym for either the romances or the mysteries. But I didn’t. A clear identity in each genre would have made it easier to create a distinct brand for each and, I believe, facilitated marketing.
And I guess you could say I created a second issue for myself by writing lesbian characters. The audience for my romances are lesbian readers and that is a clear audience to target. But even though it turned out that Detective Chiara Corelli is a lesbian the mysteries were and are targeted to mystery readers however they identify and that’s how I market them. I’ve written Corelli and her partner Parker as tough, multi-layered women and, happily, they seem to appeal to most readers.
What say you, dear reader?
In addition to publishing multiple mystery and romance short stories in various anthologies, Catherine has authored four romances novels. Her latest book, The Disappearance of Lindy James, was awarded a GOLDIE for Best General Fiction.
I wrote my first mystery by mistake. I thought I was writing a sequel to A Fiction Class, but somehow the mainstream novel turned into a mystery. So I’m in favor of trying different genres. 🙂
Susan, lucky slip of the pen or slip of the mind.
I never thought about a pseudonym working to distinguish work in different genres. And I love the Chiara romance thread. Love is love.
I go back and forth about the pseudonym. Sometimes I think it would have been easier but sometimes I think it would have just meant another distraction from the writing. I love that you love the romance thread.
I write plays in between mystery novels. It is a good break and way to explore dialogue and character.
Nice post Catherine!
Glad you like the post. I agree. Although other forms have their own problems, it’s good to take a break from the complications of writing mysteries.
I started out writing novels for kids. Now I mostly write mysteries. I debated taking a pseudonym when I changed genres and decided not to, but I did take on a pseudonym when I was contracted to write my Haunted Library series. It’s fun writing different genres.