Friday, November 16, 2018

Never Say Never

We all write the kind of novels we want to write. What kind of novel would you never write?

by Paul D. Marks

Well, as Sean Connery learned when he said he’d never make another James Bond movie, “never say never,” unless you want to make a latter-day Bond called “Never Say Never Again.” However, in that case he probably should have said no, if not actually never.

And in checking out Wikipedia  (where else am I gonna go?) I can’t believe how many genres and sub-genres of fiction there are, but I’ll only touch on a handful.

So, that said, is there a type of novel I would (probably) never write?

Romance would be up there, especially bodice rippers. I don’t have anything against them or the people who read them, but it’s not something I read and would probably feel very uncomfortable writing.

Horror – Well, I thought I’d never write horror and I haven’t done a horror novel…yet. But I was asked to write horror stories for two different horror anthologies. So I took it as a challenge and gave it my best shot. And both stories were accepted by their respective editors and are in the anthologies Journals of Horror, edited by Terry M. West, and Simple Things, edited by Franklin E. Wales.

Fantasy – doubtful I’d write something in this genre. I don’t read it and I’m not much into it. I prefer things – at least these days – set in the real and present world that deal with things and people that I recognize to one degree or another. That could change over time, but only time will tell.

Dystopian – Again, it’s not something I read much of these days, though I did more in the past. I think I have some dystopian ideas in my idea file, but nothing I’m planning to work on any time soon.

Young Adult – It’s been a while since I’ve been one so I don’t know if I can relate 😉.

Science Fiction – I actually did a sci-fi type story or two a very long time ago. They weren’t published and I haven’t tried again lately. Though I did work on some sci-fi scripts in my previous life.

Western – Again, haven’t written any western prose, though one of my favorite books is Monte Walsh. And again, I did some work on a western screenplay.

Zombie/Vampire – If you would have asked me this a few years ago, I would have said I’d never work on a vampire story. Then I started on one ’cause I thought it would be fun. And it was, but I wanted to get back to what I generally do, mystery, noir, etc. So I abandoned it. Besides, there were so many out there the world didn’t need another bloodsucker.

What I do write are mostly mystery and mostly in the hardboiled/noir vein. But I’ve also written and had published satirical stories, mainstream and other things.

My three novels, White Heat, Broken Windows and Vortex, are all on the hardboiled/noir side of things. But my short stories are all over the place. The Ghosts of Bunker Hill series that’s been appearing in Ellery Queen has a supernatural element to it. My stories Continental Tilt, The Practical Girl’s Guide to Murder and more recently There’s an Alligator in My Purse, from Florida Happens, the 2018 Bouchercon anthology, are all satirical/humorous. Windward, the story that won the Macavity and was chosen for the Best American Mysteries of 2018, is a pretty straight forward PI tale set in Venice, CA. And the first novel that I completed is a satire on Hollywood. It was accepted for publication at a major publisher. Then the editorial staff was replaced and, as a new broom sweeps clean, my novel got swept out with them. And since the humor was topical it was already dated. Remember Fawn Hall and Donna Rice… see what I mean. But instead of rewriting it, I moved on to other things, though I might come back to it someday. But I did learn something from that experience: don’t write topical humor, unless you know something will be published fairly quickly.

So, never say never. And never write topical without a ready market. My wisdom for the day 😀.


And now for the usual BSP:

I’m honored and thrilled – more than I can say – that my story Windward appears in The Best American Mystery Stories of 2018, edited by Louise Penny and Otto Penzler, which just came out this week. I wrote a blog on that on SleuthSayers if you want to check it out: .

I’m doubly thrilled to say that Windward won the Macavity Award at Bouchercon a few weeks ago. Wow! And thank you to everyone who voted for it.

And I’m even more thrilled by the great reviews that Broken Windows has been receiving. Here’s a small sampling:

Kristin Centorcelli, Criminal Element

"Although it’s set in 1994, it’s eerie how timely this story is. There’s an undeniable feeling of unease that threads through the narrative, which virtually oozes with the grit, glitz, and attitude of L.A. in the ‘90s. I’m an ecstatic new fan of Duke’s."

"Duke and company practically beg for their own TV show."

John Dwaine McKenna, Mysterious Book Report:

"This electrifying novel will jolt your sensibilities, stir your conscience and give every reader plenty of ammunition for the next mixed group where the I [immigration] -word is spoken!"

Betty Webb, Mystery Scene Magazine:

"Broken Windows is extraordinary."

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GBPool said...

Erotica, throbbing Romance, a kid's book. None of those appeal to me. Some that you mentioned, Paul, Dystopian and YA, those I would have to read to see how they functioned before I would consider writing one. So I'll stick to Mystery, Spy, and Christmas novels. Those are my genres. In fact I have an idea for an elf turning P.I. for Santa. And just to show how I consider these genres my milieu, all three of my private detectives know each other and they also know one of the main characters in my spy novels. I created my own fictional world and live in it with my characters...

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks for your comment, Gayle. I think it's really cool that your characters from various stories and threads interact. I do that, too. It makes for a "real" world where people's lives cross. And I think the idea of an elf PI is terrific. Hope you'll do it.

Anonymous said...

Great article, Paul.

I got a late start on writing (at age 65; now 72), with what I chose to call an "anti-political absurdist thriller," which let me mix some serious political/policy ideas with some moderately wacky humor, using my pen name of Jake Devlin. I also included what I called "obligatory graphic erotica," but just a bit of that.

Then one of my readers challenged me to try writing erotica (just erotica, not "erotic romance"), and I took her up on that challenge, using a female pen name, Dallas Dalyce, based on a woman with that first name that I met and used in my second and third novels in the Devlin series.

The Dallas book (just one so far) is doing five or six times as well as the Devlin ones, all three of them. Hmm.

And when I get some crazy idea, like an immortal vampire with Alzheimer's, I write a quick short story (in that case, a 100-word one) and get the idea out of my brain and to-do list.

Jake Devlin said...

Somehow that comment came through as "Anonymous," not with my name and URL. Oops.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thanks for your comment, Jake. Sounds like you’ve dabbled in several genres. And isn’t ironic that your Dallas book is doing better than your Jake books. But I guess you’re giving the people what they want. And I love the idea of a vampire with Alzheimer’s. That sounds hilarious.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi Paul,

In short stories, I write in a variety of genres including literary. I do write a bit of romance as well as mystery but nothing too shocking.

Paul D. Marks said...

Thank you for your comment, Jacqueline. And I think diversity is probably a good idea to some extent. Hopefully it helps broaden our readership.

Jackie Houchin said...

I write faith based kid's mystery and adventure stories (is that a genre?) and short stories that always surprise me with their noirishness(??). I enjoy reading mysteries, usually on the traditional, complex puzzle, or semi-cozy style. Don't all books really have a bit of mystery in them? Some mild fantasy is fun (There's a bit of it in Elise Stone's cozy mysteries that took me by happy surprise!) I like reading historical fiction, but there's WAY too much research involved to write in that genre. I like some semi-paranormal mysteries, like Leigh Perry's Family Skeleton series - what a hoot! Some history; some memoir.
Anyway, I enjoyed your post, Paul.