27 September 2009


I'm a crimewriter, or so I'm told. I can't be a mysterywriter, I suppose, there isn't much mystery in my books. As I'm fond of saying, they're "don't do its" rather than "who dun its." In any event, I'm what is referred to as a genre writer.

That's okay with me. It certainly means I'll never win a Nobel Prize for Literature, or probably a Booker, a National Book Award or a Pulitzer either. For that matter, I'm probably a longshot for an Edgar, too. Or an Anthony. Or a Dagger. Or any of the other awards for books of my genre.

And that's fine with me, too. I don't think my books are easy to classify, which is just the way I like them. When my first novel, THE LIVING ROOM OF THE DEAD, came out, Borders shelved it in the mystery section. Barnes & Noble put it in general fiction.

I wonder what's going to be made of the book I just finished writing? (If it's published. My agent hasn't even seen it yet.) For lack of anything else to call it, I've dubbed it a "romantic noir." Huh?

It does have romance in it. Well, developing romance at any rate. And atmospherically, it is pretty noir - whatever the hell that means. There's crime, even a murder, but the plot doesn't in any way revolve around that. For one of the characters it's a coming of age novel. It's kind of historical - Los Angeles in 1947. It deals with issues of race and class. For those of you who read my Ray Sharp novels for the sex scenes, sorry, there's no real sex in it. There's drugs, though. And a lot of music.

So what the hell is it?

I don't know and I don't care. It's a book. Some of you will like it. Some of you won't.

That is, if it ever gets published. It's the sixth book I've written. So far all five of the previous books have been published. I don't have any collecting dust on a shelf or in a closet. This one is currently at the stage where I've sent it out to my first round of readers and I am awaiting their remarks. When they're done with it, I might tinker with it a little before sending it to my agent, or I might not.

But I like it even though I have no idea what sort of book it's supposed to be. And if all goes according to plan it will be the first in a trilogy (as opposed to a series) of thematically-linked books set in Los Angeles in different eras. 1969 is next.

If you want to know what genre it is, I can't help you. Sooner or later, probably after I've sent it to my agent, I'll post an excerpt on my website and you can judge for yourself. If it matters to you.

Does genre matter to you? Do you need to be able to pin down what type of book a book is, before you're interested in it? How specific do you get? Let me know what you think. I'm curious.


Janet Reid said...

Maybe you'll win an award from the Romance Writers!

I do love the idea of "romantic noir" a lot.

Dana King said...

I use genre a lot in my selection of books, but only because crime fiction (a term I prefer to "mystery") is most likely to have the elements and styles of writing I enjoy, and is most likely to pleasantly surprise me with addressing some non-crime elements in a way I can tolerate. Aside from that, I have no issue with "genre" writers taking their work in a different direction. it's the writing I usually read for, and their talent won't change. (Some writers are one-trick ponies and can't do it; they're excepted. Having read LIVING ROOM OF THE DEAD, I don't see you in that category.)

Romantic noir seems a logical extension of femme fatale stories. They're not really romantic--lust-driven is a better description--but that's a fine line. Having a true romance go cross into noir territory could be an even darker story. Good luck with it.