Hey all, Liz here – and today I’m happy to host the lovely and talented Daryl Wood Gerber. She doesn’t need much of an intro with this crowd – so take it away, Daryl!
Branding oneself – what does that mean?
When the first Cheese Shop Mystery came out, I “branded” myself as the cheese lady. I did my research. I became knowledgeable. I had fun. Readers at conferences didn’t know my name, but they knew I was the cheese lady.
When the first Cookbook Nook Mystery came out, I re-branded myself as a culinary or foodie mystery author. It was a no-brainer. I know food. I love recipes. The Cookbook Nook Mysteries are set in a cookbook shop and feature food. Plus I was already posting recipes and photographs on Mystery Lovers Kitchen.
However, when I decided to publish a stand-alone suspense novel, I hit a wall. How was I supposed to brand myself so that readers knew what they were getting? Would my readers feel that I had betrayed them? What about the food and the recipes and the small town flavors they had come to expect from me?
As I was redesigning my website, I came up with some food terms that I thought might help define my work: Tasty ~ Zesty ~ Dangerous.
Tasty and zesty are pretty self-explanatory. Why dangerous? Think of it like three-alarm-chili dangerous. At first it was a designation for some of my short stories. They are not all cozy. Then I realized that dangerous could also work for my future suspense novels.
However, I got to wondering if that was the brand that would help my fans feel comfortable reaching for my other genre titles on the shelves? I asked myself: Why have my readers truly enjoyed my books? It can’t be just because of the food element. I’m not a celebrity chef.
Then it hit me. My readers like that I write about family. The protagonists in all my books are closely bonded to family. They are loyal. They follow their hearts. Not all families are built the same way, of course. In the Cheese Shop series, Charlotte’s family includes her darling grandparents, her cousin and his daughters, and her good friends Delilah and Meredith. In the Cookbook Nook series, Jenna’s family includes her dad and aunt but also her good friends, Bailey and Katie. [Just between you, me, and the lamppost, I think she would like to make Rhett family sometime soon, too.] No matter what, the protagonist’s devotion to protecting those she loves is vital to her—just like it is to me.
So, though all my novels might be tasty, zesty, or dangerous, the theme is always family.
In Girl on the Run, when Chessa wakes up beside the body of her husband, nauseous and confused, unable to explain to the sheriff why her princess costume is covered in blood, she runs. Over the course of the novel, she must delve into the truth about her husband and her family.
In Grilling the Subject, Jenna’s father becomes the suspect in the murder of one of his neighbors. The woman and he have been at odds over property rights. Jenna won’t sit back and let him go to jail. She has to prove him innocent.
Now, a question you might ask: can my cozy readers read my suspense even though they are categorized as dangerous? Yes. I still avoid using bad language. I do not write explicit sex or violence. The pace is faster, the ante greater, but the theme—family—is the same.
Some might wonder whether writing in multiple genres means I’m scattered. I don’t think so. I’m creative. I have lots of ideas. There are plenty of authors who write for more than one audience. It can be done.
What’s next for me? I’m going to publish another suspense. It will come out in November. I’m going to continue writing more cozy mysteries, too.
No matter what, each novel—whether tasty, zesty, or dangerous—will focus on family because family matters. That’s my brand and I’m sticking to it!
Daryl, thanks for visiting!
Readers, leave a comment for Daryl for a chance to win any of her published books in print or e-book format: Cheese Shop Mysteries (1-7), Cookbook Nook Mysteries (1-4), or Girl on the Run.
Agatha Award-winning and nationally bestselling author DARYL WOOD GERBER ventures into the world of suspense with her gripping debut novel, GIRL ON THE RUN. Daryl also writes the bestselling Cookbook Nook Mysteries. AsAVERY AAMES, she pens the bestselling Cheese Shop Mysteries. Fun tidbit: as an actress, Daryl appeared in “Murder, She Wrote”. In addition, she has jumped out of a perfectly good airplane and hitchhiked around Ireland by herself. She absolutely adores Lake Tahoe, where GIRL ON THE RUN is set, and she has a frisky Goldendoodle named Sparky. Visit Daryl at www.darylwoodgerber.com.