For the Love of Genre

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The first Wednesday jostles itself front and center again, and that means it’s Insecure Writer’s Support Group day, when this amazing community of writers connect and reach out to support one another. We discuss struggles and triumphs and offer a words of encouragement to our fellow scriveners.

Captain Ninja’s February 7 question – What do you love about the genre you write in most often?

colonel mustardMy snap answer is, what’s NOT to love about mystery? But that’s a bit evasive, and in my twisted worlds (real and imaginary) when someone answers a question with a question, I am immediately suspicious that said answer-dodger is guilty of of nefarious doings.

Why won’t you answer the question? What are you hiding? Were you in the parlour with the candlestick?

No. I was definitely in the library with the revolver. And a glass of wine. [and everyone who knows me will swear to this on a Bible. Alibis are in place, people.]

Back to the question.

Mystery. The genre is so versatile. There’s something for everyone. Cozy, hard-boiled, soft-boiled, every possible career choice is portrayed as glamorous and exciting in the mystery world. Killers, thrillers, spillers. Historical mysteries, historical romance mysteries, regular romance mysteries. Funny, not funny, downright gory. Graphic torture scenes are disturbingly popular right now and I, for one, refuse to read one more book that includes detailed graphic violence against women, no matter how much the author insists that it is “necessary” to bring these crimes to light.

Oh wait. I’m supposed to talk about what I love about the genre, not meander off on a political rant about stories glorifying violence against women.

Ok, fine.

What I love. I love getting wrapped up a good puzzle. I love an intellectual challenge. I love a fast ride with compelling characters racing to make right out of wrong. I love learning something new. I love getting to know characters and following them on their journeys through a series.

Secret of the Old ClockBut mostly I love that a certain girl detective, while driving a blue roadster enroute to meet friends for luncheon, grabbed my imagination and planted a seed in my young mind. That seed sprouted into the ridiculous notion that girls like me could be independent and do amazing things at a time in space when the only career choices on my horizon were secretary and nurse. Perhaps only women of a certain age, when Nancy Drew was published pre-’70s, still remember this reality. Much progress has been made, but the journey is not complete.


Mystery has entertained, educated, and inspired me throughout my life. I hope my stories will do the same.


Many thanks to our awesome co-hosts for this posting of the IWSG:

Stephen Tremp
Pat Garcia
Angela Wooldridge
Victoria Marie Lees
Madeline Mora-Summonte

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20 Responses to For the Love of Genre

  1. Angela Wooldridge says:

    Hurray for Nancy Drew! D’you know, from the posts I’ve read so far today I’m getting the vibe that genre is not as cut and dried as everyone thinks? Name a genre and you can still use it as an umbrella for several others. Thanks for such a great post 🙂

    • Lee says:

      Thanks Angela. I agree – readers have definitely moved beyond cut and dried genre and for writers, we can be more creative within those parameters.

  2. I so enjoyed those Nancy Drew books!

    So many categories of mysteries – truly something for everyone. Nowadays, I tend to like more suspense/thriller type mysteries, and I love a good puzzle and/or an amazing twist. 🙂

    • Lee says:

      My own taste in mysteries has definitely changed over the years. I read cozies by the truckload for years. Now I really like a good suspense tale with a “didn’t see that coming” ending.

  3. I’m with you about disliking graphic violence on the page. It’s the danger I find thrilling, not the disembowelment. Great article on the appeal of mysteries!

    • Lee says:

      Exactly! I read for entertainment, and graphic torture is the opposite of entertaining for me. And I find it a bit unsettling that I appear to be in the minority on that point. But c’est la vie.

  4. It’s all about the puzzles for me too! I love mysteries, and I definitely wanted to be Nancy Drew. 🙂

    • Lee says:

      Having spent several tender years pining for Nancy’s life and car, my father indulged me in a convertible when I was 16. I loved that he remembered how much Nancy and her roadster meant to me and how supportive he was of my dreams.

  5. I loved Nancy Drew! I remember how excited I would get when I got a new book for my birthday or the holidays. She was a great role model for me as a girl.

    • Lee says:

      Exactly! I got the first five as a gift from a babysitter – they were the original blue cloth versions she had been given. The rest were the yellow hard back binding, and I had them all lined up in order on my tiny bookshelf.

  6. Not a fan of gratuitous violence just for the sake of having it. Scenes involving women are hard to read or watch.

    • Lee says:

      I agree. And in a continuing series, I get eyeroll-itis when the protagonist ONCE AGAIN finds herself being beaten to a pulp. Just stopped reading such a series on book 5. So disappointing, because the writing is otherwise top notch.

  7. Victoria Marie Lees says:

    I agree 100%, Lee. I LOVE mysteries. Not the gory ones, though. The more cerebral, whodunit ones. And I LOVE Nancy Drew and Agatha Christie and Murder She Wrote. Okay, so the last one’s not a book.

    Thanks so much for sharing this with your followers. I’ll be sure we’re connected online and follow your blog. Bravo on your post!

    • Lee says:

      Thanks Victoria. I’m also a big Christie fan. Murder She Wrote was a lot of fun. I read all the Perry Mason books, as well as watching the t.v. series. My dad was a big fan and he thought it would be great if I wrote mysteries. Instead, I became a lawyer. Oh the irony!

  8. Eden says:

    I love that you called out one of the classic Nancys for this post (the bowdlerized versions post 1940 are sad in so many ways, even if Nancy herself remained a memorable character).

    Violence shouldn’t have to be part of a mystery (to woman or man). The solution, the chase… even the budding romantic entanglements between the sleuth and the “official” detective (as so often seems the formula these days) is what makes the genre magical. At least to me.

    • Lee says:

      I agree – The “modern” versions of the series successively became less sharp and less interesting. I owned cloth bound versions of the first five books – gifts from a babysitter who had them in her own library. Those volumes were always a little more magical than the later yellow bound volumes.

  9. Juneta says:

    When I was a kid I was huge Nancy Drew and Hardy boy fan, so I too have always loved mystery, still do but don’t really write it, but still read it.

    • Lee says:

      I enjoyed the Hardy Boys, too, although they were supposedly “boys books”. My mother tried to interest me in Cherry Ames, but I just never warmed up to nurse Cherry.

And your point is?