HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Someone once asked me if I could write a mystery without any romance. I said--well, no, not if the characters are living breathing people. Even a character thinking about that there's "no romance" is romance, right?
Then the person asked: Could you write a romance without the mystery?
I thought about that, and then realized: no.
"What would the people DO for all those pages?" I wondered.
The questioner burst out laughing, reminding me the shelves were full of fabulously best-selling romances where not one person got killed and not one crime was solved. Okay then, we all chooose our genre.
Which brings us to today's guest, the incredibly hilarious and successfully multi-genred Deborah Coonts.
HARD-BOILED OR SOFT-BOILED?
If there is a hard way to do something, I will find it… trust me.
Take this writing gig. It turns out I seem to be genetically incapable of writing in just one genre.
When I set out to write WANNA GET LUCKY, the first in a series that, much to my amazement, boasts five novels and four novellas—the latest being LUCKY CATCH (the fifth novel) which went on sale August 26th—I wanted to write a love story.
I’ll admit it: I love romance.
But I didn’t want to write a category romance. And I didn’t want to write a hard-boiled traditional mystery, either. I wanted to write a book I’d like to read—and, according to those around me, I can’t be pigeonholed.
So it’s no surprise my books can’t be either. Just ask my publisher.
Actually, this whole cross-genre thing happened because I wanted to write that love story but I was too stupid to figure out how to keep the narrative drive going without a dead body or something.
Like there’s no conflict in romance! Sheesh. Looking back, I do wonder what happened. It’s like my IQ took a sabbatical.
So, along with love, I needed conflict and suspense. So, I tossed a young woman out of a tour helicopter. Hey, it’s Vegas! She landed in the middle of the 8:30 Pirate Show in front of the Treasure Island Hotel, making a big splash. :-) No traditional murder for this gal.
But then I had to figure out who that poor woman was and why somebody killed her? Turns out I find fictional love easy and murder a bit more of a challenge.
I’m sure the man in my life will take heart, but that just complicated this whole writing thing all to heck. I whined about it for a while, and then dug in.
And you know what happened? After I tossed that poor woman out of the helicopter, the more I dove into the cat-and-mouse game of homicide, the more fun I have had figuring out Vegas-y ways to kill somebody.
Toss them into the shark tank at Mandalay Bay Hotel. Yep—there was something just so odd about having a huge fish tank in the middle of the Mojave Desert.
Have a mediocre magician get in real trouble, when attempting one of Houdini’s most daring escapes. It must’ve been the wine, but I just giggled every time I thought about having a magician REALLY disappear.
Embed the heel of a Jimmy Choo in the carotid of a young woman and lay her across the hood of a brand new Ferarri in the showroom at Lucky’s hotel… under a spotlight. That was the best….
Kill a young chef with a smoking gun. Yes, there really is such a thing. Kinda prosaic, dontcha think?
Who knew murder could be so much fun?
So, it turns out, after all this teeth gnashing and hand wringing, I write romantic mysteries. I know technically that’s not a true genre, but you guys get the drift. And, in the dark, creepy world of mystery and murder, I write a light-hearted view of homicide.
Can you take your mystery soft-boiled? Or does it have to be dark and scary?
About Deborah Coonts
My mother tells me I was born a very long time ago, but I’m not so sure—my mother can’t be trusted. These things I do know: I was raised in Texas on barbeque, Mexican food and beer. I currently reside in Las Vegas, where my friends assure me I cannot get into too much trouble. Silly people.
I am the author of WANNA GET LUCKY? (A NY Times Notable Crime Novel for 2010 and double RITA™ Finalist), LUCKY STIFF, SO DAMN LUCKY (a national bestseller), LUCKY BASTARD and four digital novellas, LUCKY IN LOVE, LUCKY BANG and LUCKY NOW AND THEN, Parts One and Two. The fifth novel in the series, LUCKY CATCH, is coming in July.
I can usually be found at the bar, but also at www.deborahcoonts.com.