I already adopted the word “ginormous,” so why not add “dramedy” to my vocabulary too? Dictionary.com defines it as a “a television program or series using both serious and comic subjects, usually without relying on conventional plots, laugh tracks, etc.” Webster says, “a comedy (as a film or television show) having dramatic moments.”
First used in 1978, the origin of the word is “blend of comedy and drama,” and in current usage, it applies only to TV and theater. My favorite TV shows are always dramedies, usually crime dramedies, like Castle, The Mentalist, and Keen Eddie. (Here’s a list of other dramedies, if you’re interested.) But I also love other dramedies like Scarecrow and Mrs. King (spy dramedy?), Firefly (space-cowboy dramedy?), and Doc Martin (very grumpy dramedy?).
For me, these shows are the ideal mix of drama, comedy, and even romance. Much as I love the Three Stooges, I don’t want to watch slapstick crime solvers, and much as I enjoy Law and Order, I can only take so much drama. I like the mix of dramedies.
All my life, I’ve been looking for dramedies in book form, only to discover that they’re difficult to uncover. And now I understand why. The genre doesn’t exist, and publishers really seem to prefer books that can be labeled clearly and pigeonholed easily.
There are thrillers, which are supposed to make me want to lock my door against some psycho, evil genius killer, and there are cozy mysteries, which show no violence at all. There’s romantic suspense, which generally features sex and romance equally with suspense elements. Apart from that, there’s the women sleuths, which is kind of a catch all for any subgenre with a female protagonist. But I don’t really want to read or write those. I want a crime dramedy in book form.
So that’s what I try to write in the Southern Fraud series. But there’s a problem. My series doesn’t fit a traditional book genre, other than women sleuths, so how do I adequately communicate to the reader what type of story my (virtual) pages contain? From the beginning, my goal has been to make it clear what my book is, but because of the limitations of genre, it’s been difficult. For a thriller, it’s not dark or scary enough. For a cozy, it’s too dark and scary. For a romantic suspense, there’s not enough sex.
But there IS a market for this type of story, and there is an existing genre label that suits it (albeit in TV land). Crime dramedies are some of the highest rated, best loved shows on TV, so it stands to reason (mine, at least), that people would like to read such stories too. Why does the equivalent genre not exist in the book world?
Southern Fraud is meant to be a crime dramedy series, and because no book genre equivalent exists, I have to borrow from an established, successful TV genre in order to describe it with any degree of accuracy. So that’s what I’m going to call the series from now on. I’m not going to rail against the strictures of the publishing machine here because that would be useless. Genres can help readers find the books they want, but they also create limitations.
And since the release of Absolute Liability in July 2011 and Death Benefits
in February 2012, I’ve been trying to figure out the best way to present this series so that readers will know what to expect when they purchase it. I hope relabeling the books as crime dramedies will help.
I mean, if mommy-porn is now a thing, crime dramedy novels should exist!