A Hard Day’s Read

Brain candy, Pamela, what a wonderful post, and it got me thinking.

A few years ago, the big five publishing houses began cutting their cozy lines. A lot of wonderful writers and their series found themselves without homes. It seemed as if a sea change was underway. Lighthearted reading was out. Dark thrillers were in.

Readers responded with letter writing campaigns. Big houses relented in some cases and were intractable in others. Fingers pointed in every direction. Cozy sales were good, but they didn’t carry their weight in publishing land. At least that was my takeaway. Cozies sold in the lower-priced e-book categories not in the beefier trade and hardbound categories.  Fortunately, most writers either took matters into their own hands and went indie or were able to find other homes.

Back to brain candy. As a writer, my genre has been the traditional mystery. I’m not big on putting blood and guts on the page, but I don’t shy away from them. I like to dig deep into a mystery, and explore all sides of uncomfortable topics. Note the past perfect tense. I still like to plot those mysteries, but lately, my passion has been writing cozy mysteries. Gentle, blood off the page, quirky character, small town, mysteries. The clues are hidden in human interactions not on the world stage.

While my writing style has been changing, my reading material has been, too. Reading the comments on Pam’s post yesterday made me realize I’m not alone in that. Is this another sea change we’re looking at? The world right now is a more uncomfortable place than it has been for a long time. Are we compensating with our choice of reading material?

Writers, has your writing style changed recently?

Readers, have you changed your reading material?

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Author: kaitcarson

I write mysteries set in South Florida. The Hayden Kent series is set in the Florida Keys. Hayden is a SCUBA diving paralegal who keeps finding bodies. Underwater, no one can hear you scream! Catherine Swope is a Miami Realtor with a penchant for finding bodies in the darndest places. I live in an airpark in Fort Denaud, FL with my husband, five cats, and a flock of conures. And oh yes, a Piper Cherokee 6 in the hangar!

14 thoughts on “A Hard Day’s Read”

  1. I don’t think my writing has changed much. When I wrote for kids it was light-hearted funny stuff, too. But over the years — like 30 — my reading choices have definitely changed. For instance, starting in 1974 when “Carrie” was published, I was 13 and read every word Stephen King wrote … until I had kids. Motherhood was scary enough, I didn’t need extra anxiety!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. That’s so true! I’ve heard people come down on both sides, not about motherhood, 100% on the side of nail-biter, but on how life affects reading. Some say when life gets scary they turn to scarier books to reinforce that things could be worse, while others prefer to use the literary landscape as a respite.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Great post! My writing continues to evolve. Interestingly, my short stories seem to all be paranormal but the novels want to be somewhere between mystery and thriller – no paranormal elements. My biggest challenge is stressing my characters, and it didn’t occur to me until this post that perhaps I struggle there because there’s simply so much stress in the world right now! Plus, it’s hard to come up with something juicy that isn’t surpassed by real events at the moment. (Oy.) My reading definitely changes over time. I go through periods where I can’t get enough of a particular genre, and then after a while I move on to another. Right now, I definitely struggle to read anything related to espionage, rogue governments, etc.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Excellent insight about stressing characters and about the different genres between your shorts and your novels. Are the paranormals mysteries? There is comfort in reading about a sixth sense or fourth dimension. It does seem that the truth of the world right now is stranger than fiction.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. My Natalie McMasters Mysteries are the dark, edgy thrillers you mention, but that had nothing to do with publishing trends. The first Natalie McMasters story, Stakeout!, was sparked by a news story about a kidnapped woman kept as a sex slave, and it would be difficult to base a story on that subject and not have it dark and edgy. The rest of the series grew from that. However, I do write other things. The newest Natalie book is as much a romance as a thriller, and I’m also writing Sherlock Holmes pastiches. I have a completed novel that I haven’t published which is a sequel to one of H.P. Lovecraft’s stories, mainly because the time and cost of simultaneously promoting two books in different genres is so daunting. I’ve written several science fiction stories based in the same fictional universe that I’ve also thought about turning into a series. In short, I’m a writer, and I write about whatever interests me at the time.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You are a very eclectic and creative writer, Tom, but if you trace a line, it sounds as if your writing has softened it’s edges in recent times, too although it may be more of an evolution in your interests. The thought of promoting two books in different genres makes me shudder. Your productivity is amazing! My hat is off to you.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. What a great, thought-provoking post, Kait!

    I’d say that both my reading and writing have grown a bit darker. Perhaps I’m in the “Well, I guess it could be worse” camp you mention. For me, there is comfort in knowing that people can survive tribulations and come out stronger on the other side.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s so true, Kathleen. A good friend of mine planned her entire kitchen around a tile she found in Key West. The tile reads “A woman is like a tea bag, you never know how strong she is until you put her in hot water.” You, and your writing, rock the spirit!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I think sometimes publishers get it wrong. “Oh no,” you say. “So sorry,” I say. Sometimes publishers try to create a market, but that’s risky. And following a perceived trend can be the same. Thank goodness for the indie option.

    For me, writing about some darker things with hopes of starting conversations validates me. It’s become my mission. I don’t see that changing even though when I’m deep in the throes of research I think how comforting it would be to write something lighter.

    Like

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