Between Genres At The Moment
I’m in hospital again today with a tube hanging out of my arm so I’m typing this with one hand. The nurse isn’t coming around for an hour so I’ve time to bang this out.
I’m writing a third volume of my award-winning memoirs (my agent insists on me adding that phrase). For those of you who had the misfortune to be born late, here’s a quick catch-up.Â I’m a writer of what’s known as popular fiction, ie. I’m not about to turn out ‘The Swimming Pool Library’ but I could easily have written ‘Goodbye to Berlin’. Here’s what you get when you read my books;
â€˜Choose one style of writing and stick with it,â€™ I was told many years ago by an editor. Naturally I ignored her and have ploughed a lonely furrow ever since, lurching between every possible known genre, starting with my first fiction novel â€˜Roofworldâ€™ (SF? Fantasy? Urban Drama? Thriller?) through â€˜Spankyâ€™ (Thriller? Satire? Bromance?) to â€˜Plasticâ€™ (Femme Noir? Empowerment? Adventure?) and ‘Calabash’ (Time Slip? Teen Drama? Fantasy?) and lately ‘Hot Water’ (Murder mystery? Satire? Black comedy?). The truth is, all of them have elements of horror, comedy and satire. With the Bryant & May series I knew what I wanted to try â€“ Golden Age mysteries set in the modern urban world that I know and recognise. And that was it really, the strapline.
I read a lot of murder mysteries. I donâ€™t do dumbed-down and I donâ€™t like procedural crime unless itâ€™s veryÂ veryÂ good. I very much admire the outrageous style of Lee Child, the atmospheric prose of Ann Cleeves and the balls-out gutsiness of Val McDermid, I’m very much enjoying the final book by Theo Clare (Mo Hader) called ‘The Book of Sand’ and there are also a couple of authors IÂ hate,Â especially (REDACTED) and (REDACTED) so I know where I stand as regards to influences and tastes. I like historical crime too, like the thrillers by Robert J Lloyd, Lloyd Shepard and violinist/chemist Oscar de Muriel.
Whenever Iâ€™m put on a festival panel itâ€™s often with the horror/SF writers because festivals simply donâ€™t know where to place me. Which leads me to the realisation that the Bryant & May books exist in a non-existent genre, a sort of crime with-serious-stuff-and-funny-asides thing. Iâ€™d be happy to be filed under Crime: Mystery and have done with it.
It will come as no surprise to hear that TV executives have no idea at all what to do with the books. They want to film them but seem intent on making them similar to other series, but the Bryant & May mysteries arenâ€™t like anything else. Theyâ€™re not procedurals, not supernatural, not ultra-violent but they areÂ quite fun. After all, why would cops choose their profession if on some level it wasnâ€™t an enjoyable daily experience?
That brings you lag-behinds up to speed. The nurse is coming back to take out my cannula. I’m happy to write on any subject this week, so all suggestions will be welcomed.