This week's question is a terrific one: "There's only so many ways to sing the blues and yet no one ever asks blues musicians why they're still doing it. Do you ever feel restricted by the constraints of the crime genre or overwhelmed by what's out there?" Any type of genre description or definition offers a framework or context in which the artist/author creates a work and in which the reader/listener/watcher experiences it—but while some of these might be restrictive, I'd hesitate to call them repressive. Many, many year ago, Margaret Maron offered an analogy about the idea of genre and constraints, one that has stayed with me. She compared the mystery genre to the sonnet; there are rules to the sonnet (14 lines, specific rhyme scheme, etc.), but there's a wonderful lot of different ways to do interesting things to make the form your own. And I do want to say I appreciate the question's emphasis here on the phrase "crime genre" as opposed to mystery; many of us interchange the two fairly loosely, I think, but "crime fiction" strikes me as more encompassing of the genre's full spectrum: tales of amateur sleuths, detective stories, police procedurals, thrillers, noir, spy novels, romantic suspense, etc. (or to carry out the metaphor just slightly: sonnet, villanelle, haiku, sestina, terza rima, whatever). And personally, rather than overwhelmed by the scope of all that, I'm thrilled by it.
In other news, today at the Maine Crime Writers blog, Kathy Lynn Emerson is hosting a conversation with this year's finalists for the Agatha Award for Best Short Story: Barb Goffman, Edith Maxwell, Emerson herself, and me. This is part of a continuing blog-hop for us—and still more to come! Check it out here—with Kathy providing links to previous appearances as well.
And finally, here's the first sneak peek (!!!) at the cover of my debut book, On the Road with Del and Louise: A Novel in Stories, due out September 15, 2015 from Henery Press. I was pleased with it, and hope others will be too.