Murder, She Thought

I’ve been thinking a lot about murder recently. Not on my own account; it’s never struck me as a particularly practical solution to difficulties, apart from the fact that it’s so hard to get blood out of fabric. You can soak it in cold water forever but there’s still a lingering shadow that has to be treated with biological washing powder. No, I’ve spent the summer reading a lot of cosy (or cozy) crime. I try to avoid reading Regencies when I’m writing my own, as it just depresses me to see how much better other authors manage it.

I like cosy crime for the atmosphere and world it creates. I usually don’t care about the victim, and I can never spot the clues which lead to the perpetrator, so the whole mystery thing is just a side show. Instead, I enjoy an insight into small-town libraries (Elizabeth Lynn Casey), running a needlework shop (Monica Ferris) and even house-cleaning (Gillian Larkin, Traci Tyne Hilton and Christy Barritt). Very soothing, especially if I get hold of a series and can read one after another, like devouring a box of chocolates too fast. It’s addictive.

So now I’m wondering if I should try writing one myself. Carola Dunn and M C Beaton started out as Regency writers before switching to cosy crime; although they had already been published in their first genre, and I am ‘yet to be published’, which sounds so much better than ‘unpublished’. And if I did start work on one, what would I read in my spare time? Could I risk going back to Regencies, or would I need to find yet another genre for leisure reading?

But the most important question, of course, is ‘Whom should I murder?’ When I heard M C Beaton speaking at the Bloody Scotland Crime Festival in Stirling a year ago (taking place again this weekend – the programme is here) she confided that after a particularly sticky session during the filming of one of her Hamish MacBeth stories, she had relieved the stress by ‘murdering’ some of the participants in ‘Death of a Script Writer’. If I were really clever, I could manage a plot in which no-one was murdered, like ‘The Thin Woman’ – which, incidentally, is highly recommended if you haven’t read it before.

I suspect for now it will remain just another idea on the back-burner, waiting for the right conditions, but I’d like to give it a try sometime. Have you ever switched genre? Did you find it changed your writing style?


One thought on “Murder, She Thought

  1. annestenhouse

    Reblogged this on Novels Now and commented:
    Well, now, it’s probably better to murder people on paper than in real life. Do wonder about the switching of genre Allis touches on. I’m writing something at present in Scots vernacular. I hear it in my head as I did so readily when I wrote my first play, Horizons. There’s an exciting energy about it. Although I do get that feeling when my regency dialogue is going well, too, I know.
    What do you think, visitors? Do you like your favourite writers to try out other genres? Do you prefer your favourite writers to stay with what you first encountered and loved?


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