Thursday, February 18, 2016

Defective fiction

I am listening to a series of lectures on detective fiction, its origins, development and subgenres. (If subgenre, to paraphrase Bertie Wooster, is the word I am looking for.) One thing mentioned in passing was that at the time the lectures were given a couple of years ago, more than a quarter of all the new works being published in English were detective fiction.

Other sources say the highest money-making genre in America (not the same as highest number of books, of course) is romance/erotica. (I assume they are not factoring in outright pornography, which would throw all statistical bets off.) This is followed by crime/mystery -- not necessarily the same thing as what the lecturer meant by detective fiction, within the meaning of the act, as literate British sleuths say -- much of which seems to be the output of a big-name established author with a supporting cast of co-authors (who do most of the nitty gritty these days, one suspects) running essentially the adult (not in the meaning of that act) equivalent of the old Hardy-Boy/Nancy-Drew book mills. This beats out religious/inspirational -- whose numbers are inflated by including the Bible, clearly not a recent work, and which everyone is expected to own but not to read too closely, -- followed by sci-fi/fantasy and (as a distinguishable genre though with shadings into all of the above) horror.

This caught my interest because of the question of what book idea I might pick up after Except for His Wings (which falls not too neatly into any of the above best-selling genres) and Wacky in WhoVille (which I will claim is a mystery, although a friend told me, if there is no murder, it's not a real mystery.)

My unfinished -- perhaps unfinishable -- second John of the Cross novel, Death on the Way of Perfection, is clearcut -- historical, religious mystery including multiple murders, red herrings, amateur sleuths and even, although no one supposedly ever expects it, the Spanish Inquisition. Maybe with the occasional bit of inspiration drifting through. No romance. Not within the meaning of the act, anyway, although there is some illicit but relatively harmless flirtation that plays a role in what happens. (There is a hint of romance/very-tame-erotica in Wacky. Not enough to market, however. Maybe PG-13?)

Not a topic for Lenten reflection, perhaps, but suitable for authorial ponderings. 

I have thought at times about putting together a slim volume of the best bits from the blog. That might fall into several categories, not romance perhaps or erotica, but occasionally inspirational, fantasy and horror. Perhaps even all at once!


anne marie in philly said...

NO ONE expects the spanish inquisition! our elements are fear and surprise!

Mitchell is Moving said...

Well, I don't care what anne marie says, I've been expecting the Spanish inquisition for years. I swear I have!

And tell your friend it can still be a mystery without a murder; it just can't be a murder mystery.

I'm all full of opinions, or something, today.