Please join me in welcoming guest blogger Lauren Baratz-Logsted! She’s one of my sistahs at the Knight agency, and, in addition to being a complete sweetheart, her books are just plain fabulous! Seriously, not to miss. When I read the premise for her latest, Secrets of my Suburban Life, I snorted coffee all over my keyboard. It’s that good. I cannot wait to get my hands on it. (Making a trip to Borders today!) So, take it away, Lauren…
Seems like I’m always defending something. While pursuing my half-Master’s in Literature, I defending on separate occasions both Sir Philip Sydney and Maeve Binchy. (Make of that what you will.) And I’ve famously, or maybe infamously, defended Chick-Lit. Well, since the chain bookstores chose to classify my Victorian erotic suspense novel, VERTIGO, under “Mysteries and Thrillers,” and since my brand-spanking-new Young Adult novel, SECRETS OF MY SUBURBAN LIFE, is what I would call a sort-of mystery, guess what I’ll be defending next?
(SECRETS OF MY SUBURBAN LIFE, by the way, is about a teen named Ren D’Arc whose novelist mother is crushed to death by a stack of Harry Potter books. In the aftermath of this unique tragedy, Ren’s father moves her from NYC to Danbury, CT, where Ren becomes involved in a sort-of mystery centering on an online predator – OK, obligatory self-plug over!)
During the days I worked as a bookseller and buyer at Klein’s of Westport (1983-1994), there was a woman who used to come in, a little slip of a thing with a black helmet of hair and thick glasses, who used to buy paperback mysteries at the rate of ten a week. She was like a crack addict, always having me put her purchases quickly into a brown paper bag like she was buying a fifth of Jack Daniels. (Why, yes, I am mixing my substance-abuse metaphors.) Back then, at least in my early years there, reading mysteries was considered a somewhat shameful thing, a lesser literary pursuit. I’ve never been sure why it was that way, but that perception changed with the advent of the popularity of Sue Grafton and Sara Paretsky and Patricia Cornwell; really, I’d say it was mostly the ladies who pulled the genre up.
The thing is, genre fiction, all sorts of genre fiction, has always suffered at the hands of the literary elite. You only need look at the fact that romance is the only genre not represented in the New York Times Book Review by having a regular column devoted to it to see how deep some of these prejudices still run.
And yet…and yet…what’s wrong with mystery and romance? Don’t we all want romance in our lives? Doesn’t mystery underlie everything in those lives? And don’t books, all books, contain a certain element of mystery to them – the compelling question driving the story, “And then what happened next? And then what happened next? And how is this all going to turn out???”
We humans, I think, often, all too often, deride the things we desire most and hold most dear. It’s a shame, really. It’s like if a thing is pleasurable to us, or talks to us deeply, we have to feel guilty about it, make fun of it.
So here’s today to all the women – and men! – who toil in the genres, particularly mysteries, despite the slings and arrows, providing their readers everywhere with both entertainment and enlightenment. And here’s to no more brown paper bags.
Now, everybody…go out and buy my book! (Sorry, but if I didn’t try to self-plug at least one more time, I would hate myself in the morning.)
Be well. Don’t forget to write.