Some years ago, an agent suggested that I write a spec script for one of my favorite TV shows, “Cagney and Lacey.” In preparation, I took a train to Philadelphia and spent days at a museum library that housed old TV scripts, familiarizing myself in depth with the characters and their lives. I can’t remember how many scripts I read that day but I was there when the museum opened and I was still there when it closed. The following day I was back.
Because cults were going to figure prominently in my story, I devoted weeks to doing research, attending multiple workshops of anti-cult organizations and was amazed to discover how many authoritarian cults still exist in our country today.
Shortly after my script was submitted, the head writer invited me to the west coast to pitch story ideas. I’m on my way, thought I. Fairy Godmother has smiled on me at last.
Wrong! Hollywood being Hollywood, before I had even bought my plane ticket, the network cancelled the show. Disappointed doesn’t begin to cover how I felt. A great opportunity lost. All that effort and research wasted. “Cagney and Lacey” went into the bottom drawer.
Time passed during which my Carrie Carlin amateur sleuth series was published—(Hallelujah, I was on my way again!)–and then dropped when Bertelsmann bought Dell. More disappointment.
But I am resilient, not one to be beaten by that nemesis of authors, rejection. After all, I had survived a divorce. I decided to try my hand at something different. A romance. I was single again. Romance was appealing. Not a light romance, though. A romantic suspense. I am, after all, a mystery writer.
After attending a Halloween parade in Nyack, New York, the germ of an idea began to form. What if a murder was committed amidst the chaos of a costume parade? The killer is masked. No one could identify him or her–unless there was a witness who could not be fooled by the disguise. Out of the bottom drawer came “Cagney and Lacey.” All that effort and research had not been wasted!
“ABLAZE” (fourth title—nothing is simple in this business) is a story about power and greed and about the mind control used in destructive cults by men corrupted by the power they have gained over the souls of their followers. The cult in this book is a conglomerate of many such groups drawn from my imagination, but the methods used to recruit and control its followers are based on my research culled from the experiences of ex-members.
“ABLAZE” is, however, primarily a modern love story about two people deeply attracted to each other but whose inability to work through past experiences keeps them apart.
Writing this book has been a whole new experience for me. I wrote my amateur sleuths in first person. This book cried out for the omniscient narrator. Despite the murders scattered throughout my previous books they are light and humorous in tone. This book is on the dark side. Will my new eBook mystery readers be disappointed? Will they object to the explicit love scenes? Many of them have asked me when the next Carrie will be published. This is not “Other Deadly Things” #6. Changing genres can be scary.
On the other hand, I haven’t totally changed genres. I’ve crossed genres. The book opens with a murder. Romance readers will have to be patient. They will have to wait for the romance to develop. Who knows if they’ll be willing to do that? My mystery readers might find that there’s too much romance for their tastes. As for me, I grew. I overcame inhibitions—delved into areas where I had heretofore hesitated to venture. So, on the bright side, I might find thousands of new readers. A whole world of cross genre novel writing could be opening up to me. All those hundreds of thousands of romance fans might overwhelm the Internet with posts that go viral clamoring for me to pen the next “Fifty Shades….”
Do I really want to go there? Then again…
Note: This guest blog originally appeared on August 8, 2013 on The Perseverance Press Authors’ Blog, Get It Write.