The integration of my everyday self and my author self is one of the coolest things to happen this year. It developed organically, naturally. This does not mean that my fiction is autobiographical, or that I’m confusing fiction with reality, but that I’m writing from my own authentic point of view, whether it’s fiction or creative nonfiction.
It wasn’t easy (at least for me) to do this right off the bat, especially for the fiction. If you’ve ever tried to write a novel, you might have experienced that weird combination of fear, discovery, potential, and confusion as you try to figure out what you’re writing about, how it should be written, and how to sustain the voice and the sensibility long enough to make it read like a single work. Quite a few writers have talked about their writer/author “persona,” as if it is something they can don like a pair of pantyhose–something that conforms to their shape, but is not really them.
Having that kind of separation is good in some ways, but a real disconnect in others. I know there’s quite a few differences between the first and second Charlotte mysteries, and there’s differences in the third, as well. I started out thinking that I would write fun, whimsical cozies, then quickly realized that fun and whimsical does not come naturally to me. With enough work and feedback, I could probably churn out one such book–but repeating it for several books would be a living hell. My estimation of authors of fun, whimsical, and especially comic cozies skyrocketed.
So I took my efforts in the direction of “cozy with an edge.” I wasn’t compelled to write with a lot of profanity or graphic violence and sex, nor did I want to create a cold, hard, bleak world. The warmth of much women’s fiction also seemed natural, especially after several years of writing the Minimalist Woman blog. I then described my work as “women’s fiction in a traditional mystery.”
While writing the third mystery, however, it became increasingly clear that I was writing a traditional mystery without any particular qualifiers–and that was probably how I was going to continue. Charlotte’s family history came to light, and the other main characters, along with the town of Elm Grove, took on more depth, as well. Sussing out history and motivation is what she’s good at, and why she’s often working with Detective Barnes, and likely to cover a broad range of crimes.
Charlotte’s methodology is not unlike what I used in many of the posts at the Minimalist Woman blog: observation, analysis, and conclusion. It’s a sort of philosophical approach, relating the larger world to personal experience, and personal experience back to the larger world.
And that is how a lot of things fell into place for me as the author.
I now know it’s time to market to a more general mystery-reading audience, and that means a different set of covers and other graphics, different book descriptions, author photo, etc. It also means that I am a lot more comfortable talking and writing about my work, both in person and on social media, since I feel a lot clearer about what I am writing and why. I’m no longer juggling the fiction and the nonfiction, and am consolidating my blogging efforts here, writing the same sort of human-experience posts that I wrote at the Minimalist Woman.
Being the author of these books and this blog isn’t a role, or a persona I hide behind, it really is me and what I do. Well, okay, in real life I cuss a lot more. 😉