An elderly man came over to my desk in the library a few weeks ago and said, “I didn’t know you were a librarian and wrote books too.” I was a bit surprised, because I had no idea who he was, and wondered how he knew either thing about me. I explained that I was a library assistant but said it was true that I write mysteries and I added something about wearing different hats while I do my different kinds of work. Then he asked me a question that has had me scratching my head every since. He said, “Why do you write such gruesome books?”
I mumbled some sort of answer, he moved on, and I got back to work cataloging and getting new books ready to be covered, etc. I have to work very fast because I’m only part time and due to budget cuts and people cuts, I have more work than ever. So I didn’t really think about the incident for a few days.
But now it’s on my mind. My first reaction to the question is, “I don’t write gruesome stuff—I write for Avalon and it’s against the guidelines. Gory descriptions are to be avoided.” The opening scene in my latest book is the closest I’ve ever gotten to gruesome. I have no idea if that man read it.
My second reaction is, “I write mysteries because I like to read mysteries. The stories that pop into my head are generally in mystery form.” That makes sense, right?
My third reaction, and the one that I’ve been agonizing over, is why do I only write mysteries? There are plenty of books that I’ve enjoyed that aren’t mysteries. Could I write one of them? Should I try?
One genre I’ll stay away from, to everyone’s benefit, is romance. That’s way too hard for me. And I have tried writing other genres. I’ve tried historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, capers, middle grade fiction, screenwriting, and, most recently, suspense. All these are completed books. So far, however, only the mysteries have been published.
So why do I write these “gruesome” books? Because they sell. And I can be proud of them when they do.