I was at lunch with an editor today and he asked me what kinds of books I represent. I talked about being a generalist--I have novelists, nonfiction writers, children's book authors of all stripes on my list--but really took a while to talk about crime fiction. And since this is nominally a blog about crime fiction, I figure my fourth post is probably a good time to mention that I do work on this kind of book!
But it's funny what happens when you start to parse what it means to "work on crime fiction." I mean, I represent authors who write about cops and soldiers and spies and serial killers of the darkest stripes, and also middle aged ladies solving crimes because their Australian Shepherds growl at the right time, or fifth graders solving baseball-glove thefts at recess. And I love it all.
In some ways it started when I was reading Encyclopedia Brown when I was 7 or 8 (and I suspect I'm not alone there), though my real favorite sleuth was the absurdly named Dickory Dock in Ellen Raskin's brilliant Tattooed Potato and Other Clues. My mother still thinks I was rebelling when I spent much of Junior year of high school listening to Purple Rain and London Calling while inhaling the entire set of Agatha Christie's novels. (Some rebellion!) And then, after college, where I found Forsyth and Ludlum and Follett, I went to work at Harcourt Brace and spent three years reading and editing mysteries like Curtains for the Cardinal and The Rafael Affair. So when I returned to publishing after 13 years away, I was stoked to concentrate on crime fiction.
My first sale was an amateur sleuth mystery set in the world of classical music, by a conductor, starring an old, cranky, blind violinist and his young Japanese female student and his best friend, who's an African-American insurance adjustor. My third, though, was a nasty, hilarious serial killer novel called Hello Kitty Must Die, with an incredibly graphic first nine pages that sets the scene for a novel completely outside my previous frame of reference. And my last two crime fiction sales were a 16th Century Tudor thriller (with a wonderful cozy mystery--in a PRIORY!--stuck in the middle--how much fun is THAT?) and my co-blogger Jeff Cohen's latest pseudonymous haunted guesthouse mystery. My list has a number of Quirky Ensemble mysteries and a couple of high-tech thrillers and a traditional cold war spy novel or two.
So on some level it totally makes sense that I'm the Tuesday guy on Hey, There's A Dead Guy. Because that living room is where I want to hang out.
Next time I'm going to start a series of posts about these different kinds of novels, and where I've seen a ton, or not enough, in my query inbox. If you're reading this and will be at the Houston conference this weekend, tell me you read this post (and mention the priory) and I'll buy you a drink at the bar of the Marriot! L'Chaim!