I once heard M.J. Rose talk about how she couldn’t get her book published because no one could figure out its genre. It had suspense, sex, psychological thrills, etc. So she sold it herself, garnered tons of fans and now has a publisher.
Writing what you love, but not being able to get published because the book doesn’t fit into a neat category is frustrating. I enjoy romantic suspense, but prefer series over stand-alone books. This creates a dilemma for my writing because many mystery readers don’t like too much sex in their books and most romances don’t have series that are focused on the same two characters. But that is what I really want to write — a mystery involving two characters who are in love and do what people who are in love do.
The first manuscript of Deadly Valentine had all the mystery and romantic elements, but I toned down the “good bits” because I know most mystery readers don’t want explicit intimate scenes. I thought by watering down the love scenes I would increase my chances at getting published.
After making a few rounds and being told I have a “page turner”, “a great writing style” and “it could make a great romance if you elaborated on the intimacy”, but not getting an agent, I’ve decided maybe it’s time to just do what I want. So I’ve added the heat. It’s still a mystery, but offers more than a little cozy. One could consider it a romance, except that I have completed drafts of two more books in the series. Each has a mystery while also continuing Jack and Tess’ romance. I’ve done the same with the Delecoeurs; a happily-married, sophisticated, bantering couple ala-Nick and Nora Charles who often find themselves embroiled in murder and mystery. They also find time for passion.
That’s not to say I’ve gone all “Fifty Shades of Gray”. Although I don’t have anything against explicit sex scenes, I much prefer intimate moments that focus on emotion and sensation over tactical details.
I’ve discovered that many e-publishers are open to books that don’t necessarily fit within one genre, and I’m hopeful one will take a chance on Deadly Valentine.