Do you stop for sex?

The panelists at the February 18th Sisters in Crime meeting explored the intersection of romance and mystery in their writing.   Deftly moderated by, Triss Stein, the panelists included:

Laura Curtis  who writes crime fiction, contemporary romance and romantic suspense (that sweet spot where they co-mingle):

Ursula Renee,  the president of the New York Chapter of Romance Writers of America who has written romances with the extra twist of a multi-cultural focus;

Kate White, the former editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, and the successful author of the Bailey Weggins romantic suspense series, as well as, several other free standing romantic suspense novels:

Sheila York,  the author of the Lauren Atwill  romantic suspense series with an historical mystery twist set in Hollywood in the Golden Age of cinema.

Triss opened the discussion by raising interesting issues that were recently discussed on the Maine Crime Writers Blog where the authors explored the question of whether romance belongs in a mystery.

Some key takeaways:

… romance is the ‘safe harbor’ factor that does a number of things. 1-it makes characters more appealing and fleshed out, 2-it lends some sanity to a world/story where most everything else is dark and threatening, 3-it gives readers something extra to anticipate. (-From John Clark on the   Maine Crime Writers Blog)

-whether mystery or romance, it is all about pacing: If the romance gets in the way of or slows down the story then it needs to go.

open door sex vs. closed door sex (lots of discussion and laughter on this topic):  Open door sex means the reader is invited in as a close observer.  Closed door sex is where the reader knows what’s about to happen, but the scene closes leaving the good parts to the reader’s imagination.

-gratuitous and ridiculously placed sex scenes have no place in a well written romance or mystery—they just make the readers laugh; although we all agreed that Fifty Shades of Grey may force us to rethink this.

The question was raised on the difference in marketplace opportunities for publishing mystery or romance (or the romantic suspense).

Laura Curtis explained the marketplace for romance is huge—but there are many, many writers of all types of romance.  Basically getting anything published by one of the publishing houses is very challenging for both romance and mystery.

Kate White offered a very realistic perspective: Kate shared her experience talking with Alexa Hirschfeld, the co-founder of Paperless Post who was clear that not only should you love your product —you must also find a market that wants it.   So while it’s important to write the kinds of books you really enjoy writing (be that romance or mystery), if you want to make money at it, you have to be tuned into and responsive to the marketplace.

As always, the evening was a wonderful opportunity to learn from successful writers- on the panel and in the audience.  Come join us next time. Check out the Sisters in Crime  site for upcoming meetings.

Feb 18 panel SINC_1116

Feb. 18 SINC panel: Triss Stein, Laura Curtis, Ursula Renee, Kate White, Sheila York

 

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