Thursday, November 14, 2013

So, when's a crime novel NOT a crime novel?

By Guest Blogger E.J. Copperman
In explaining why my new book would not be reviewed by a specific venue recently, I was told that the venue in question “only reviews crime fiction,” and so mine did not qualify.

Now, keep in mind that we’re talking about a novel in which there are two murders, and the bulk of the pages are spent investigating those incidents and bringing the perpetrator(s) to justice. I didn’t ask why the reviewer I was conversing with didn’t classify such a story as “crime fiction,” because I really didn’t need to ask. I knew why.

Some of the characters in my series are ghosts. That’s why.

Living deedThere are times that being classified as one type of story or another can actually be helpful to a book in finding readers. Some people, I’m sure, read my first Haunted Guesthouse novel NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED because it has ghost characters.

And on another occasion recently, I was asked what kind of series the Haunted Guesthouse books might represent. Without thinking, I gave the stock answer; “paranormal humorous cozy,” I said, although I don’t see how talking like that is going to solve anything. The person asking lit up, “Cool!” And wrote down the name of the book for future reference.
So it doesn’t have to be a bad thing to be defined by sub-sub-genre.

Amazon, which is not the de facto arbiter of all things that can be sold legally in the United States (and many other places) classifies THE THRILL OF THE HAUNT in the following manner: Books > Literature & Fiction > Genre Fiction > Horror > Ghosts. Of course.

On those rare occasions when I think of my books as anything but stories that I hope people will like, I would probably classify them as comedy mysteries. The fact that two of the continuing are deceased really doesn’t enter into it for me.

I write Paul and Maxie. I write them as people who are able to float around, move through solid objects, contact other beings like themselves through a form of telepathy, and generally make my first-person narrator’s life miserable, which is exactly what they are intended to do. As my friend Ian Abrams says, “Nobody wants to watch your character have a nice day.”

Yeah, they’re ghosts. Of course they are; I designed them to be from the beginning. That was the idea. Does the fact that there’s an element of the “paranormal” in the books negate the whole rest of the story? I don’t think so.

It’s a reviewer’s prerogative to comment or not comment on any book ever written, and I respect that. But there are times when I bristle a little at the concept of being shoehorned into one little box or another because others don’t see past the accepted definitions.

Luckily, Lorraine offers the chance to let off a little steam.

What's bugging you today?
Thrill of the hauntE.J. Copperman writes the Haunted Guesthouse series, whose latest installment THE THRILL OF THE HAUNT was published on November 5. You can classify it any way you want. Next year, E.J. will team with Jeff Cohen to write a series about a sleuth with Asperger’s Syndrome for Midnight Ink. And there’ll be another Haunted Guesthouse book. Thank goodness there’s just no getting rid of some people.

E.J.'s Website:
His blog:  Sliced Bread
Twitter: @ejcop
Facebook: E.J. Copperman