One of the challenges of my new Southern Fraud series is that I’m blending several genres: thriller, mystery, humor, drama, and just a hint of romance. I liken it more to crime dramedy TV shows than to most books I’ve read. Obviously, there’s a market for a mix of thrills, mystery, humor, drama, and romance; it’s on TV every night. But I’ve had a hard time finding that same balance in books.
Janet Evanovich is mostly over-the-top humor. Kathy Reichs is all about science and mystery. I could name a dozen romantic suspense writers, but Linda Howard came to mind first. Ditto dramatic and serious thriller writers. There seems to be a lot of separation in books where there is more of a mix in TV land. I wanted to create that mix in Southern Fraud.
I think I’ve achieved my goal, but as a result of blending genres, I struggle with how to label (and to some extent market) the series. If I call it a thriller, people will expect pins-and-needles action all the way through with a creepy peek in the mind of the criminal. Mystery: a whodunit with no peek at the criminal. Humor: anything from dry puns to men slipping on banana peels. Drama: lots of angst on every page. Romance: red hot love scenes every fifty pages.
Even in my cover design, I had to be careful. Absolute Liability is not so action-packed that I need a cover complete with explosion. But it’s not a cozy where the gun should not be featured. Nor is it totally serious. I tried to walk a fine line with a fun cover that features the gun prominently (twice! I didn’t want anyone to be confused).
For clarity’s sake, I’m contemplating a few changes and conducting a few experiments. I’ll probably be renaming the series “Southern Fraud Novels” just so it will be a tad more generic, and readers won’t be disappointed not to have a straight up thriller. I’m also playing with my Amazon subgenre lists. Absolute Liability fits well in the “Women Sleuths” category, but where else do I go? Mystery, humor, romantic suspense? I’m not sure. I’ve decided to try humor and see how that goes. Even though it’s not a full-on laugh-riot comedy either, it does feature quirky characters doing odd things.
I do not want to misrepresent the book, but in my genre bending world, it’s a challenge to find its place. My description clearly states that it’s a blend of “suspense, humor, and Southern charm with just a hint of romance,” but is it clear enough? Did you get what you expected?
I guess my question is “you smell where I’m stepping?”
All advice welcome.