I am happy. Today is release day for my first hardcover in years – a cozy mystery called EXERCISE IS MURDER coming from Five Star/Gale Cengage Publishing. Who doesn’t like Release Day? My story is going out into the world, which I hope will treat it kindly and everyone buys lots and lots of copies!
Compared to my October release – BEADED TO DEATH, Carina Press – EXERCISE IS MURDER is darker and more realistic. BEADED is much more lighthearted.
So why is one story darker? Same writer, roughly same length, roughly same socio-economic setting – what’s the difference?
I’ll be honest – I don’t know. Both deal with heavy issues – politics and infidelity and murder in EXERCISE, drug dealing and murder in BEADED. I can’t tell you why one turned out lighter than the other. I just know that when I was writing BEADED it was a struggle to keep the story from going into farce. Of course, the 7’3” nephew on the run from an unwanted basketball scholarship helped. That is hardly a realistic circumstance.
But on the other hand, a harmless plumber’s widow being brutally murdered in the middle of an exclusive exercise class in a very expensive condominium is not very realistic either. When I was working on EXERCISE it was hard to keep the story as light as it is. The characters each had so many problems – and motives – it was difficult to keep the story from falling into a morass of noir. Yet a reviewer – a lady whose taste and judgment I have admired for years – called it a ‘laugh-filled romp.’
One person’s romp is another’s whatever… etc.
So if I have learned anything in this writing life it is that the story will tell itself. Oh, we writers have to spell and watch POV and make sure the names and the tenses are straight, but it is the story and the characters themselves who decide if a story is light or dark. No amount of cute descriptions or a running barrage of jokes is going to change the basic tenor of the story.
As writers we are accustomed to being in control. We know our characters, we decide where and when and how things are going to happen – most of the time. Sometimes we just have to hang on and let things go as they may. That’s when the magic of writing occurs.
If I were a pushy publicist type, I’d suggest that you read both BEADED TO DEATH and EXERCISE IS MURDER and compare the two. I’d urge you to explore the difference of shadings, and ask you to let me know what you think.
That, however, would be utter commercialism. Besides, you’re very astute and learned readers – you’ve probably already thought of it yourself.
At least, I hope so.
In any case, share my joy in this release week for EXERCISE IS MURDER. Thanks for coming by!
Janis Patterson is a seventh-generation Texan and a third-generation wordsmith who writes mysteries as Janis Patterson, romances and other things as Janis Susan May, children’s books as Janis Susan Patterson and scholarly works as J.S.M. Patterson.
Formerly an actress and singer, a talent agent and Supervisor of Accessioning for a bio-genetic DNA testing lab, Janis has also been editor-in-chief of two multi-magazine publishing groups as well as many other things, including an enthusiastic amateur Egyptologist.
Janis married for the first time when most of her contemporaries were becoming grandmothers. Her husband, also an Egyptophile, even proposed in a moonlit garden near the Pyramids of Giza. Janis and her husband live in
Texas with an assortment of rescued