Please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for January include: (1/5) Jennifer J. Chow, (1/12) Amy Pershing, (1/19) Heather Weidner, (1/26) Marilyn Levinson.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

Genre Swapping by Kait Carson

I’ve been a published author for a long time. Back when the earth was cooling, I sent a letter to the editor of my local paper. I was thirteen at the time, and the paper published it. That led to my receiving a letter from a literary agent. Times were different then. Agents came looking for writers. I knew a good thing when I saw it, and I signed. My parents weren’t involved in the contract, and the agent never knew my age. I had no idea that the arrangement was less than binding.

 

That contract led to my writing short stories and being published in the teen magazines of the day. Seventeen, Ingenue, and others I can’t recall. All featured what I called my pink and white stories. Why pink and white? They were romances. I was an avid mystery reader, but a prolific romance author. I had a blast. I wish I could find copies of those stories today. They were written under multiple pseudonyms. Not because they had to be, but because that was part of what I thought an author should do at the time. To this day, I’m not sure why my agent never questioned my multiple personalities.

 

My agent passed away when I was in college. It was also about that time that I stopped writing for publication. It was the 1970s. Change was in the air. Living life was a more immediate need than writing about it. I didn’t put pen to paper for another twenty years. When I did, I discovered two things: short story writers did not need agents anymore, and writing novels was far harder than it looked. At this point, I was reading romances. My first attempt at a novel was a romance. It’s titled Caribbean Knights and it lives under my bed. I visit it occasionally. It’s right next to Circumstances of Death, a romantic mystery. There’s a trend here. The novels never sold. Nor should they have. They were definitely training attempts.

 

Computers and the Internet were gaining traction at about the same time. Although Facebook and other platforms were still in the future, writers’ groups were developing. It was through a writers’ group that I learned about True Confession magazine. Romance stories with happy, or at least satisfying, endings. Five thousand words or less, please. What, you thought those stories were true? Well, they were, for someone, somewhere. Those that I wrote were all based on at least a kernel of fact. They were fun because they were not bylined. There is something freeing about anonymous authorship.

 

Now that I was writing again, it seemed that every time I passed the seven thousand word mark, someone died. And not in a good way, either. This romance short story writer had morphed into a mystery/crime novelist. The transformation was handy, since that’s what I was reading. When I learned of NaNoWriMo (the National Novel Writing Month), I decided to try my hand. I wrote the requisite fifty-thousand words during November and refined it for the next three years. The book finally became Death by Blue Water and Henery Press published it in 2014.

 

There have been a few more books since 2014. Some published, some not. Although they qualify as traditional mysteries, I haven’t forgotten my romance roots. Each of the books features a romantic interest and subplot. These days, I’m considering seeking a literary agent. Very different to my first agent experience. I’m also toying with the idea of writing short romances again. Although the Trues are long gone, there are lots of anthology opportunities. Sometimes it’s fun to explore the joy and wonder of new relationships and bring them to a happy-ever-after ending without anyone dying.

12 comments:

Jim Jackson said...

You’ll not be surprised to discover that I was not a fan of your early writing, although I’m sure it was terrific, but not my cuppa. I am impressed that a literary agent reached out to you. I recall someone approaching me by email who promised to help me sell 100,000 copies of my next novel. The only thing guaranteed was that it would cost me a lot of money up front. Not quite the same as your success. [grin]

Susan said...

This is such an intriguing story. Because I came late to the writing world, I was unaware of all these changes. I saw the computer revolution in classrooms, but not in the writing industry. I hope you keep writing and find an agent.

Annette said...

"Living life was a more immediate need than writing about it." What a great line. It perfectly describes me in the 80s and 90s.

Kait said...

@Jim, LOL, no surprise! Reading preferences are so taste specific!

I was so young that I thought that was how the writing game worked. Thankfully, this turned out to be a legitimate offer and we had a successful partnership. Times were different.

Kait said...

@Susan - thank you! Yes, it was different. I remember writing my first novel in longhand and then re=typing it on an IBM Selectric! Writing is much less labor intensive now.

Kait said...

@Annette - :) A great way to store up story fodder.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Great blog, Kait. I enjoyed learning about your past writing life.

KM Rockwood said...

What an inspiring story! I'm so impressed with your writing journey and your insight.

Kait said...

@Margaret - thank you!

Kait said...

@Kathleen, thank you. It's been a fun ride so far :)

Molly MacRae said...

What a wonderful journey and story, Kait. Thanks for sharing it. I experienced the magic of being approached by an agent, too, and am still with her. As much as the writing game has changed, there's still a good bit of luck involved, don't you think?

Kait said...

@Molly - Oh, yes. Luck definitely plays a big part. Especially in this day and age when trends some and go so quickly. The market changes at the speed of twitter, and luck plays a big role in being ahead of the curve.