by Vicki Stiefel
Why, in my first foray back into fiction writing, did I veer from my mystery-thriller genre where I was well published, had friends, knew the landscape?
Makes no sense, right? Even stranger, I switched to a genre populated with mages and shapeshifters and magic, not to mention a heavy dose of romance?
"That's the dumbest idea, Vicki," Sarah said.
"It is? Why?" I said.
Sarah frowned. "Because you're known as a mystery writer. Magic? Romance? Shapeshifters? Really?"
"Hey, it works for Lev Grossman, Ilona Andrews, Grace Draven and hundreds of other writers. I love reading their work."
"I think you're nuts."
Was I nuts?
When my husband, Bill Tapply, grew sick with leukemia 7+ years ago, I stopped writing fiction. I hadn't intended to still my fingers. Yet real life smacked me down so hard, I couldn't find the words to craft my fictional worlds. It stunk. So I wrote a nonfiction book—10 Secrets of the Laidback Knitters, with Lisa Souza. I took the photos for it, too. And that helped. Boy, did it ever. No, it did not open my mind's doors to my fiction writing. But at least it got me writing. I love that book, almost as much as I love to knit.
But that hole inside me, that creative space that only writing fiction fills, yawned wide and empty.
So about two years after Bill's passing, with the jagged edges of his death somewhat smoothed, and with the urge to pick up my virtual fiction pen shrieking, I placed my fingertips on the keys and began to write.
I wrote of a fierce FBI agent who knit while she interrogated. She was empathetic, the FBI's best at what she did, even if she was a bit …odd. Soon, my fingers typed the murder of her mentor and I plunked them in New Hampshire—a place both bucolic and edgy. (No, that last isn't an oxymoron.) Fine ingredients for a brew of murder and mystery, right?
Except what poured from my fingertips was anything but.
Sure, my novel contained plenty of mystery. Yes, the setting was contemporary USA. And—boohyah!—I still could write fiction. But magic purred through my pages. A wee dose of sci-fi, too. And romance, both sweet and deadly. Oh, and sex.
And I liked it. It felt right. My plot varoomed, surprises burst along the way, secrets abounded, and the novel thrummed with a deep and resonant meaning. Thus, Chest of Bone, my paranormal romantic suspense novel, was born.
So back to my original question—Why did I switch genres?
Because I couldn't not.
What about you? Have you ever switched—A genre? A career? A life?