Monday, September 27, 2010

Is a Formula So Bad?

When I wrote last week about murder mysteries vs. Crime novels, I was referring to a blog post at No. 1 Mystery Novel by Deryn Collier. (Deryn, incidenly, lives very close to Nelson, B.C. AKA Trafalgar) Deryn explains on her blog that she likes murder mysteries, she sees a murder mystery as a sub-genre of crime novels. And that is what she prefers to read. She has recently been disappointed by two bestselling authors who used to be depended upon to write a good murder mystery, but seemed to have slipped this last time.

I’ll buy that.

I guess it’s sort of like if you are the marketing department for Kleenex, who I have heard are not pleased when someone walks into a store, asks for Kleenex and walks out with no-name-brand tissues perfectly happily. Branding can be tricky.

People like what they like and if they expect to pick up a book of the sort they like, they want to find that it is what they like.

Got that?

Isn’t that why we don’t buy a book that is a pile of computer printouts stapled together? A book, paper or electronic, comes with a cover picture, a descriptive title, a blurb or short description, perhaps a quote or two from a reviewer. There might even be a paragraph lifted directly from the book in the front matter.

You wouldn’t want to pick up a book with, say a cover picture of a tiny boat tossed among giant waves in a stormy sea with the authors name and book title in dark grey, a blurb using words like ‘foreboding’ or ‘dread’ or ‘fear’ or ‘terror’, and be blurbed by Stephen King, buy the book and get it home to read a story of a little old lady who owns two cats and a knitting shop and the cats talk and solve crimes.

You expect the book cover and all the other clues to deliver on what they promise. I guess that is a formula in the same way that when I make a cake I put in flour and sugar and butter, not minced beef and chopped tomatoes and spices. If I use beef and tomatoes I call it something else because it is not a cake.

In this I agree with Deryn. When a book is by an author known for their style of writing, and it is part of the ‘x’ series, and there is nothing indicating that this book is something different, then you have a right to feel cheated if it is not what you expect.

Particularly if you feel the bestselling author has just gotten lazy.

In other news, one month to go until the release of Negative Image, the fourth Constable Molly Smith/Trafalgar book. The first chapter of the book is up on my web page , ( and the second will be posted next week. Check it out, because there will be a test later,

1 comment:

Donis Casey said...

This is why authors who want to write something totally different than their series often have to resort to a pseudonym. Even if it's no secret that Nora Roberts, for instance, is J.D. Robb, you know that the Robb books are different from the Roberts books