By Julie, still chilly in Somerville
My day job is running an arts service organization called StageSource. StageSource is 30 years old, and connects the theater community in New England in dozens of ways. It is a very, very challenging job, but incredibly rewarding.
Every two years we host a conference. This year it will be June 7 at the Boston Opera House, and the theme is “Who Are We? How Do We Tell Our Stories Differently?” Thirty years in, it is time for all of us to take stock,and think about our theater community, and how we want to present ourselves. (If you live in New England, like or love theater, or are an arts administrator, come to the conference. It is going to be great.)
As complicated as this is for the theater community, it is as complicated for mystery writers. I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately. We are already a genre, and within that, we create other subgenres, like “cozy”. Some things are out of your control–like how your book gets tagged for data collection, or where it is sold in a store. How you claim that space, and tell that story, is an individual choice though. Do you fight it, or embrace it?
When I started out on this writing journey, I fancied myself a “serious” writer, even though I read widely in the mystery genre. It wasn’t until someone asked me why I wasn’t writing mysteries, and I didn’t have a good answer, that I changed paths. Even then, in literary fiction classes, it was a risky move. But when I dropped a body, my story got better. When I added a mystery component, characters had something to talk about. And when I embraced being a mystery writer, I fell in love with writing.
Earlier this month I went to Malice, and was invited to the Berkley/Obsidian dinner. Sitting in that restaurant were some of my favorite authors, but I felt at home. We each had to get up and introduce ourselves, so I told them that I was Julianne Holmes, and my debut book, Just Killing Time, was coming out in October. Everyone clapped. For me.
How cool is that? Here’s the best part of the story when you are a mystery writer: other mystery writers are wonderful people. It is a great, supportive, and fun community.
I love that being a writer has become an integral part of my story. It isn’t my entire story. I am also an arts administrator, an arts advocate, and a teacher. But I have come to own the writer part of my story, and I realize it sure makes the whole package a lot more fun.
Writer friends, where does your work fit into your story? Readers, does your love of mystery fiction add to your own story?