On Wednesdays the Wickeds all weigh in on a specific topic. Today’s question: when did you decide to write crime fiction instead of another genre?
Jessie: I’m not sure it was a conscious decision. I love the structure of mysteries and the way they both reveal and conceal as part of the experience. The first chapter book I ever read was The Bobbsey Twins at the Seashore and have been an avid fan of the genre ever since. It seemed only natural to write what I have always loved.
Liz: I’ve been a “fan” of crime my entire life – or should I say obsessed with it? Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden were my staple reads as a kid. My grandfather was a detective, and though he tried to spare my young ears from gory details, I was fascinated by his work. And I always had an affinity for reading about serial killers and true crime. When I started writing, it made sense to explore the subject matter that most interested me.
Edith: I grew up reading mysteries. About twenty-two years ago I was home with my sons running a small organic farm and teaching childbirth classes. I was reading all the cozy mysteries I could get my hands on: novels by Katherine Hall Page, Susan Wittig Albert, Diane Mott Davidson, and others. My younger son went off to kindergarten, and for the first time in eight years I had every morning to myself. My husband at the time said, “You like reading mysteries so much, why don’t you write one?” Doh! Light bulb moment. He probably thought I’d actually make some money at it almost immediately. Wasn’t that a sweet and oh-so foolish idea? But hey, I dove in and have never looked back.
Barb: Thanks to my mother, I happened to be in possession of the first book I ever wrote.It’s about a boy named Billy, who wants a horse named Lightning. It’s really more a tale of longing than a mystery, thought there is one mysterious part where Billy’s father goes off in search of Lightning.
At first, Billy’s mother is bereft.
Anyway, Billy’s father makes it back.
Sherry: I love your story, Barb. Because my parents were big mystery and thriller readers, I grew up reading them so writing them was natural. Like Jessie, I started with the Bobbsey Twins. Mom would read a chapter a night knowing that my sister and I would want to read more. I spotted these at a thrift shop last spring.
Julie: Years ago I took a class at Grub Street. I was writing a very boring story, trying to figure out how to solve that issue. During breaks and before class I would talk to one of the other writers, and we’d talk about what we were reading. I had just discovered Elizabeth George, and was raving about her books. One week I was lamenting the lace of narrative arc in my story. In other words, nothing happened. She said to me “I notice whenever you talk about books, your eyes light up when you are talking about mysteries. Why don’t you turn it into a mystery?” Sure enough, I killed someone off and the story got a lot more interesting. I read Nancy Drew as a kid, devoured Agatha Christie during my teenage years, and have always enjoyed the genre. Writing mysteries made me a lot happier than other writing I’d done. I’m just sorry it took me so long to figure that out!
Fellow writers, when did you decide to write mystery fiction? Readers, when did you decide that was the genre for you?