I’m a traitor, that’s what some of the hardcores are going to say. But a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
What am I talking about? Well, brace yourself–the book I’m currently writing is not a mystery.
I didn’t train to be a mystery writer. So I was unaware of the requirements of the genre until, well, I received my first mystery book contract in 2003.
If you write a mystery series, you need to produce at least a book a year.
Imagine my naivete. Before getting published, I had no idea of the required annual output. I read mystery series, but often out of order, and never bothered to check the publication date.
You write five or six mysteries in a series, and then you can write a standalone–and that should also be a mystery, preferably a thriller.
My response: I’ve never been that good with rules.
I’ve only done three in my Mas Arai mystery series–and they all have been trade paperback originals. I guess my goal should be to get a book in the series in hardback before I go out and strike it out in another genre.
But the publishing industry is more cutthroat than ever, and there’s less time to make your mark. Some of my readers are not necessarily mystery fans–a number are more likely to pick up Lisa See’s Snow Flower and the Secret Fan or Cynthia Kadohata’s Kira-Kira before Janet Evanovich or James Patterson. I’ve been itching to write from a woman’s point of view and not necessarily in the context of a standard mystery. So here I go.
I should be scared, but I’m exhilarated. Cut off all the safety lines and jump.
Getting that first contract does change you, and many things have been lost along the way. Just as spirituality needs to be cultivated on a regular basis, so does the art of writing. The risk of it. Entering new territory and not knowing really how you and your work are going to be transformed.
I do plan to return to the mystery series, fully refreshed. In addition to this nonmystery novel, I have an idea for a mystery standalone, so it may be two books before I return to my crusty protagonist Mas.
I wish that I could tell you the next episode in this writing story. Show you some teasers–perhaps of a small band of Mas Arai fans in revolt or me rotting away in the corner of my office, spider webs stretching from my head to the ceiling.
But there are no signs of the future.
I just jump.
WEDNESDAY’S WORD: abunai (SUMMER OF THE BIG BACHI, page 22)
Definition: dangerous, risky, perilous. Abunai, Will Robinson, abunai. Enough said.