Sunday, April 3, 2011

Identity Crisis?

     When people ask me what I write I say, "Mysteries, mostly."
     When my mother tells people her daughter is a writer, she says, "She writes about vampires." Members of my writer's group, The Living Writers Collective, have also been known to say that.
     According to "the industry", my latest books and stories are not mysteries. Depending on the source you consult, my current writing is "urban fantasy" or "speculative" or "paranormal". I am not opposed to some of my writing being called paranormal mysteries. However, I also write mysteries about horses and other perfectly ordinary animals.
     It's possible I call my books and stories mysteries because that makes them more mainstream. Maybe I don't want to be pigeonholed.(If that isn't a word it should be).
     Many writers, beginners to bestsellers, write more than one kind of book. In the past, publishers have  made writers choose psudonyms under which to publish books other than the ones they are best known for. I think it's good that the industry is moving away from that, but it does get confusing for bookstores and patrons. Do you look for Charlaine Harris books under "Paranormal/Urban Fantasy" or "Mystery"?
     The first book in my  series, Daylight's End, features a vampire and the fact that he is a vampire is central to the plot. But it also includes a mystery that is completely unrelated to the vampire character.
     In my second book, Before Daylight (sequel to the first), there is another vampire, who is central to one part of the plot, but again, there's a mystery that has nothing to do with the supernatural. Beyond Daylight (working title of book 3) will feature yet another vampire and a sorcerer. Book 4, will also feature more vampires and probably another non-human or two.
    I have written many stories about the characters from my novels. I must admit, while many of them can be called mysteries, some cannot. And in my Daylight stories, all plots as well as most characters, involve supernatural elements. These stories also feature characters from books 3 and 4, both novels which are yet-to-be-completed works in progress. And I'm certain characters introduced in some of the stories will turn up in later novels.
     So, is my writing mystery or paranomal?