Genre Hopping with Laura Walker

News Flash: Lori B. is Laura’s lucky winner! Lori, congratulations, and please check your email.

Edith/Maddie here, just back from a quick vacation and dutifully tending to my blog wrangler responsibilities for the month.

Like the others, this one is not a bit onerous! Laura Walker is a California author who writes delightful cozy mysteries, but she has also been through a lot in her life. Today she’s genre hopping for us with her new memoir, Good Girl: A Memoir of Overcoming Rape, Breast Cancer, and Fundamentalism. I’m thrilled to present her and the book to our readers, and she’s giving away a copy to one lucky US commenter.

But first, the book blurb: Laura Jensen Walker was always a good girl. Growing up in the Midwest in the 1960s, she was a polite, straight-A student who respected her elders, went to church on Sunday, and never gave her parents any trouble. Bookworm Laura was the poster child for good girls everywhere. Until one fateful night in a college fraternity house. This is the journey of a “good-girl-gone-bad-gone-good-again” and her search for belonging and acceptance, with funny and not-so-funny detours through boot camp, Britain, book-burning, breast cancer, and born-again evangelicals. Ultimately, it’s a story of resilience. Victory. And healing.

The good little girl in her Easter bonnet (six or seven years old.)

Mixing it Up – Writing in a Different Genre

I’ve always written in different genres. More than twenty-five years ago my publishing career began with DATED JEKYLL, MARRIED HYDE, my first funny foray into non-fiction. After that, I wrote nine more non-fiction humor books before moving into my passion. Fiction. My first novel DREAMING IN BLACK & WHITE (chick lit) came out in 2005, followed by six more fun and frothy chick lit books. But after writing 17 books in 12 years, I took a long, much-needed writing sabbatical.

I returned to writing in 2020 with my first cozy mystery, the Agatha-nominated MURDER MOST SWEET. Two more cozies followed in quick succession. Which brings us to now and my latest book, my return to non-fiction. Good Girl: A Memoir of Overcoming Rape, Breast Cancer & Fundamentalism is the hardest book I’ve ever written.

During Air Force basic training (19 years old.)

GOOD GIRL started as a spiritual memoir several years ago after I’d left fundamentalist Christianity and found my home in the inclusive Episcopal church. It became so much more.

I hadn’t intended to write about the sexual assault that happened in my late teens—to reveal that private trauma to the world. Good girls didn’t talk about such things. They kept them private. Hidden. Buried beneath layers of shame. Yet a few years ago after hearing woman after woman come forward and bravely share their #MeToo stories, I realized that what happened to me had happened to a LOT of women. Girls. Not just me. I took a deep breath and began the painful process of honestly examining my rape at nineteen and how I’d reacted over the years to that assault on my body. My psyche. My whole being.  

My husband and me during my chemo days, 30 years ago.

And then I picked up my pen and began writing. Bringing my secret to the light. Sharing it with the world. And healing in the process. No more shame. No more fear. No worries about what people would think. I wrote the book I was meant to write all along. The book of my soul. The best book I’ve ever written.

Writers: Do you like to mix it up by writing in different genres? If so, which ones? Readers: Do you like to mix it up by reading in different genres? Which are your favorites?

Please answer for a chance to win a copy of GOOD GIRL (U.S. only—sorry.)

[Edith: Laura’s on the west coast, so she’ll be by to respond to your comments a little later.]

Former journalist Laura Jensen Walker is the award-winning author of more than 20 books, both fiction and non-fiction, including Good Girl, Thanks for the Mammogram! and the Agatha-nominated Murder Most Sweet, an Amazon bestseller. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America.

Laura loves hearing from readers. You can connect with her through, on Twitter @LauraJensenWal1 or Facebook.

34 Thoughts

  1. Yes. Cozy mysteries, mysteries, woman’s fiction, romance to name a few. Thank you for sharing. God bless you.

    1. Thanks for commenting. I love women’s fiction and mysteries too, and also love historical fiction–particularly those set in WWII (preferably England says this rabid Anglophile 🙂

  2. I will occasionally read other genres, but not as much as I used to. I’ve fallen into mystery and I can’t get out. Not that I’m trying that hard.

    1. I was going to ask you what gaslight fantasy was, but then I Googled it. I must admit although I’ve never been a big fantasy fan, I do like Victorian and Edwardian settings, so perhaps I’ll give it a go.

  3. I read mostly mysteries but I also like to read true crime, thrillers and some Stephen King.

  4. I love the mystery, thriller, and science fiction genres, with an occasional romance to keep the spark alive!

  5. Enjoy reading just about every genre – except sci-fi and fantasy. It’s fun to read stories that can make you laugh, become the amateur sleuth that’s inside of you, feel all you emotions, learn something from, or see a little of yourself in. My favorite genre, I would say, is the one I happen to be reading at the time.

    “GOOD GIRL” sounds like a fabulous book! Through my many years, I’ve found that the things that we keep inside often continue to grow and fester instead of going away. Releasing it into the world helps one heal. In the process of doing that, your story may help other girls to know they aren’t alone and it was not their fault. They can see how you can overcome and come out on the other end stronger.

    Thank you for the chance to win a copy! I would love the opportunity to read “GOOD GIRL”.
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Thanks, Kay. I’m with you–I read many genres, but am not a big fan of sci-fi and fantasy (or horror.) Thanks for your kind words about my memoir–the book of my soul. I do hope it will help other women who’ve gone through something similar.

  6. I read all over the place. The Hubby just got a book on loan about King George the III and it looks fascinating.

    Congrats on the book, Laura. And brava for being brave enough to write it!

  7. Congratulations on writing your cathartic book and finally reaching this point in your life and career.
    I do switch it up with genres periodically. I enjoy cozy mysteries a lot but also read Star Wars novels, suspense/thriller, biographies and books about animals.

    1. Thanks Laurie. I’ve been trying to get this book of my soul published for years, so am very happy it’s finally out! (I too like suspense/thriller and a good biography.)

  8. I write women’s fiction (the kind formerly known as chick lit. Can we bring that back? Embrace and reclaim the word “chick?” Because chick lit is not rom com—and comedic women’s fiction sounds a little stodgy for that sub-genre.) and mystery. In fact, I like to combine the two.

    I read everything.

    Oh, and I was raised fundamentalist and rejected it around age 19. It sounds like a great memoir. Congratulations on its publication!
    Shelley Burbank

    1. Thanks for stopping by Shelly. My first novels were chick lit. At the time (still in my evangelical/fundamentalist days) one CBA publisher turned down DREAMING IN BLACK AND WHITE (my first chick lit) because he didn’t think my heroine was one Christian girls should emulate. Not that she was ‘bad’ just too light and superficial. Clearly he didn’t understand chick lit. Congrats on rejecting fundamentalism as well. It’s incredibly freeing isn’t it?

  9. Thanks so much for joining us, Laura, and for having the courage to write your memoir. I wrote a memoir in essays about the year I lived in Ougadougou, West Africa, but it needs a deep-dive edit and revision – or maybe just a place on the family-only stories shelf.

    I read primarily crime fiction, unless I’m perusing a non-fiction book for research, but I do sometimes pick up a women’s fiction or one of Jenn McKinlay’s romcoms.

  10. Too many thoughts swirling in my brain right now to sort them all out, but I am looking forward to reading Good Girl.

    I read mostly crime fiction, but love to mix it up with non-fiction biography and autobiography and then there’s the odd romance to cleanse the palate. It’s all good!

    1. I like to mix it up too with biographies and autobiographies and the odd romance. In fact, I just finished a romance a couple weeks ago by a new-to-me author Jill Mansel called Maybe This Time that I loved. (Set in the Cotswolds of England, one of my favorite places on earth.)

  11. I do like to mix genres, fiction, non-fiction, biography, cozy mystery. This book sounds like an homage to a time when everyone tried to never show a fault or bad thing. I still encounter that today with older folks, don’t point out a fault, people don’t like it. Apparently we are not human or share a common story. Up very interested in reading your story.

    1. Thanks Lori. You’re right–I was raised in a time (the ’60s and ’70s) where you never talked about the bad stuff and kept things secret. But secrets have a way of festering, so I’m glad I finally broke free of those constraints to share my story–a more universal experience for many women as I’ve realized these past years…

  12. I read everything from crime fiction to horror to romance to nonfiction to cereal boxes!

    Congratulations on your memoir and the courage it must have required to write it and put it out there. Like you and so many others, I was conditioned to keep quiet about the bad stuff, which helps perpetrators to keep perpetrating. Like you, I started speaking up in the #MeToo era and have no intention of stopping.

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