Monday, June 02, 2008

The State of the Mystery

The Sisters in Crime Blog has a multi-part report on the state of mystery writing in the U.S. seen from the standpoint of publishers, agents, editors and others in the business. I have to say it's rather disheartening if you are trying to publish a traditional mystery (Promiscuous Mode) or even a genre-bending not-quite-traditional (Festival Madness). The advice is to call it a thriller, whatever it is. It's awfully hard to call an amateur sleuth who solves a crime where there's a soupcon of romance, craziness, technology, and what have you a thriller. I wonder if I put in my query that the book is mainstream enough to require a big umbrella. . .

The other totally disheartening thing is that publishers now say one book a year is not enough. I can barely see myself writing one book a year, much less two or 2.5. It seems like a book requires two years to get it right. Maybe I'm a pokey writer. Maybe I want to make the Indian relish and the orange yogurt bread and see the art exhibits and do OTHER STUFF like till my garden and sit on the deck with a glass of wine and enjoy NATURE. Read other books (Hello again, Proust). Do stuff.

The odd thing is, that while I've been going through the 8th, yes, the 8th draft of Festival Madness, and thinking and researching the California book, and thinking the World War II YA, and thinking (hard) about my cat short story, that yet another book has come into my head. Unbidden.

I didn't need this. It's crime fiction, which I thought I had given up on. It takes place in Northern Nevada and the plot is kind of coming together. I suppose in light of the current market it should be a thriller, but it seems a little more like, I don't know, not a mystery but just a novel. With crime. And scary people.

When people ask, where do you get your ideas, well, the idea for this book came one night when I was (in Northern Nevada) and in the middle of the night awakened by the train rumbling thru town, making the mobile home vibrate, awakened again to someone going down the street playing a slide whistle, and yet again by a coyote howling at the edge of town.

I wrote a poem about it, and hoped that was it. Nope, here comes a book, saying write me, write me. Merde.

I've also got the Chaucer book (don't ask), the Elizabeth von Arnin short bio, and the Grace Hopper short bio in my head. Six books? Well, not in a year. At the rate I'm scribbling it will take 18 years. I'm going to be sort of old by then. Can't see myself doing tours and all that stuff.

Three books a year? Ha ha.

Que faire? Mon Dieu.


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