Bryant & May And The Missing Genre
‘Choose one style of writing and stick with it,’ I was told many years ago by an editor. Naturally I ignored her and continued to plough a lonely furrow between every possible known genre, starting with my very first fiction novel ‘Roofworld’ (SF? Fantasy? Urban Drama? Thriller? Satire?) through ‘Spanky’ (Thriller? Satire? Bromance? Supernatural?) to ‘Plastic’ (Chick Noir? Female Empowerment? Adventure? Satire? Comical-Pastoral? – oops, sorry, ‘Hamlet’ joke there). With the Bryant & May series I knew what I wanted to write – Golden Age mystery in the modern world. And that was it, the strapline.
I can’t do dumbed-down and I don’t like procedural crime unless it’s very very 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 and there are also a couple of authors I hate, especially (REMOVED) and (REMOVED) so I know where I stand as regards to influences and tastes, but I also know I’ll only ever be an acquired pleasure unless I cut out all the humour, which I don’t want to do.
This creates a problem; whenever I’m put on a festival panel it’s often with humour writers because festivals simply don’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. I’d be happy to be filed under Crime: Mystery and have done with it.
Separate of the Bryant & May books I’m currently finishing a psychological thriller that still has no title, and the twist here is that I’ve not allowed myself to make a single joke in the book, just as a test of my own strength. At the same time I’m thinking about another crime series of a far more strait-laced nature – I know there are a handful of fans out there who actually like the funny parts of the novels, so the question is; should I change what I do to fit the market, or continue doing what I like and let the readers find me? An abstruse dilemma, I know, but one which may alter my career.
Meanwhile, I can confirm that ‘Bryant & May: London’s Glory’ will feature eleven or twelve missing cases from Arthur’s files, along with special features and even a cutaway diagram of the Peculiar Crimes Unit, and will be in stores on November the 5th, along with the paperback version of ‘The Burning Man’ (see what we did there?)