Summer releases, and fall releases to look forward to, from the Thalia Authors! Happy summer to all, and exciting reading, whatever your inclinations.
In Astonishing Heroes:Shades of Justice from small press iPulp Fiction, Gary Phillps has collected his prose off kilter superheroish stores. In its pages you’ll find the likes of the Reclaimer, an anonymous city bureaucrat who knows what evil lurks via psychic emanations from tenement walls; Onyx Adams, an Afro wearing, kung fu kicking swinging ’70s female PI, and American Black, an agent provocateur created by shadowy right-wing forces who reveals his own agenda. In tradepaper and ebook
Shades of early Dos Passos and Jack London, beginning in September, Gary will be writing a weekly serial about the working class members of the Dixon family; handyman Uncle Hank, his niece, Afghanistan war vet Jess, and his nephew, the peripatetic Little Joe. The Dixon Family Chronicles will combine issues such as efforts to income inequality, gentrification and temp work while their lives unfold. For the Capital & Main site.
When the man who date-raped their friend is found not guilty, a woman’s book group decides to take their own revenge, with surprising results.
Kate’s new books are coming up this fall. Look for them at booksellers everywhere
Death Dealer is the true story of a police investigation in Miramichi, New Brunswick, into a resident’s mysterious disappearance. It pulls readers directly into a tense and complex, real-life search as cops and, ultimately, game wardens from the neighboring state of Maine with cadaver dogs, painstakingly make their way through scarce evidence, frightened witnesses, and forbidding terrain to uncover the victim’s body and bring a killer to justice. ISBN: 978-0-88282-476-5
This 4th book in the Joe Burgess mystery series, And Grant You Peace, finds Burgess pulled inadvertently into a case rife with religious tensions after finding a young mother and a baby locked in a closet inside a burning mosque. His search for answers leads him to an outlaw motorcycle gang, a fishing boat captain who may be supplementing his income with illegal activities, and an immigrant community suspicious of the police. The professional becomes the personal when his family is threatened and he faces the prospect that the “normal” life he’s begun to establish may be coming to an explosive end. ISBN: 978-1-4328-2939-1
Lise McClendon has released her first mystery series in a box set. The Alix Thorssen mysteries set in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, feature art dealer Alix in a variety of western and arty dilemmas. They include four complete novels and two bonus short stories in one package. Exclusively on Amazon, and free with Prime or Kindle Unlimited.
Lise’s new suspense release, The Girl in the Empty Dress, is garnering good reviews. This sequel to her bestselling women’s novel, Blackbird Fly, features Merle Bennett and her sisters on a walking tour in France. When the annoying “sixth wheel” obsesses about an injured dog they find along a roadside the sisters’ idyllic summer tour turns dark. Find out if Merle settles for her New York boyfriend or takes a chance on Pascal, last summer’s fling, as The Girl in the Empty Dress tests the familial bonds in new and dangerous ways.
Categories: there are tons of them in fiction. In the crime genre there is hard-boiled, soft-boiled, amateur sleuth, noir, cozy, police procedural, serial killer, private eye, and on. Same with romance novels: historical, regency, steamy, cowboy, time travel. More genres: sci fi, fantasy, horror. We all like to read different things, and write them, so categories help us find something in our favored niche. Categories serve their purpose.
But for writers like me, the category, the slot, the genre feels like vise grips sometimes, constricting and inflexible. Is it necessary? Is it a marketing gimmick? Can’t I just write the damn book and let the readers decide? Well, no, actually. You have to put a label on most everything. It’s called marketing — even though we may call it @#!@#$.
The same goes with writing a mystery series v. the stand-alone novel. The mystery series has been popular since Sherlock Holmes started his serial adventures, and will probably never die. Readers love following a sleuth from book to book. I know I do. Sue Grafton is almost finished with the alphabet after publishing ‘A is for Alibi’ over 30 years ago. (I had to look that up — 1982! Now that’s a run.) How difficult would it be for me to write 20+ books in the same world, with the same character!? Answer: really hard. Her heroine Kinsey Millhone is stuck in the ’80s too, making her cell phone and internet use nonexistent. Great books by a great writer, in my opinion. Lovely person, Sue Grafton. But I couldn’t do it. All my hair would be gone. Sue’s looks gorgeous.
So after two mystery series I started writing stand-alones. They are harder to sell ( and #*@&! market) without those built-in audiences clamoring for the next installment in a series. And somewhat harder to write because you have to build the world — and the characters — all over again each time. Author Laurie R. King says this about the standalone:
While a series permits a writer to develop a set of characters over a period of time, a standalone novel represents the only opportunity these people have to live and breathe and tell their stories. Even if some of them reappear (and my standalones do have the occasional link and overlap), their book must have a sense of completeness, must contain an entire universe within its pages.
Other writers consider the “standalone” term more loosely. Here’s Tamera Alexander’s take on it:
Tamera’s series books are considered “stand-alone” novels, meaning they can be read out of order. However, if you’re planning to read all of the books in a series, you should read them in order for the most fulfilling story experience.
So you can have a series of standalones? Hmm. I once pitched a series of linked standalones to my editor, the first of which became ‘Blackbird Fly.’ The series was to be linked by five sisters, each to have separate adventures. That idea didn’t really fly (although ‘Blackbird’ did. 🙂 )
Now I find myself in the position of starting a new book about the same characters in ‘Blackbird.’ I’m back to the series idea, with my protagonist Merle Bennett once again in hot water in France. I love writing about France, almost as much as going there. This time I’m going to use some of the experiences I had last year doing a walking tour through the vineyards.
Despite my dislike of being put in a box, pegged a certain way, I am back to writing a series. (And I am loving it! Go figure.) My last novel, written as Rory Tate, was a thriller with lots of action and cops and spies. You would think that’s a pretty tight box to fit into, wouldn’t you? Espionage thriller. Police Procedural. Maybe not. Michael on Amazon said:
Cross genre writing can be a slog, yet Rory Tate succeeds at crossing multiple genre boundaries. Plan X accomplishes all its goals: From boy meets girl to girl comes into her own and unravels both police-work and personal dilemmas inside a complex and satisfying plot structure.
No matter how hard it is to write the book inside your heart and head and still hit the marketing categories, sometimes readers just see through all that and are glad for the ride. There is little more gratifying to a writer than a reader who ‘gets it.’
Are you more comfortable inside or outside the box? Series, standalones, genre, cross-genre? Love story or category romance? Deep characterization or pacy thriller? What’s your poison?
I leave you with a (classic?) mystery cover. Have a fabulous reading and writing week — and don’t eat all the pizza rolls!