My friend Sherry and I had a plan. Some people hope to make it rich by winning the lottery, but Sherry and I decided to write a series of mysteries. We both read them a lot, so we know the genre. For the type we’re planning to write, the kind we’ve seen in dozens of incarnations all over the library, we need to have a few key things: a spunky heroine, a sassy sidekick (preferably a woman of color or an old lady although in a pinch a slutty friend will do. It helps if the friend in question is rich to finance the heroine’s snooping.), at least one hunky love interest–although two is fairly common, and titles that are puns. But mostly, you gotta have a gimmick.
Sherry and I have talked about this quite a bit, especially after we’ve been shelving because that’s usually when we come across books we’d never heard about before. There are quite a few cozy mysteries that are based around the main character’s job or hobby. The quirkier the better. We’ve been keeping a list of unusual themes. So far, we’ve found the following: Nuns as sleuths, knitters as sleuths, Roman Empire mysteries, Rat Pack mysteries (with titles like Everybody Kills Somebody Sometime and Luck Be a Lady, Don’t Die –see what I mean about the titles?), priest mysteries, art therapy mysteries, mystery shopper mysteries, fly fishing mysteries, stand up comedy mysteries, wine lover mysteries (the most recent of which is entitled Corked by Cabernet), and home renovation mysteries.
It’s kind of mind blowing, and sometimes when Sherry comes across something unusual, like the book that somehow involves both murder and award winning preserves classified as “a home crafting mystery,” she’ll leave it on my desk for me to find. It’s always quite a treat. The problem was if we were going to write our own series, it would be best to stake out our own unique niche that no one else has used yet. Sherry told me that she used to make false teeth for a living, and we thought there might be something there. But it turns out there is already a dentist themed series on the market. I do a little yoga, but there are a few of those out there as well.
There are some other possibilities we haven’t researched fully. I used to work as a Sno-Fun girl making shaved ice treats in a gas station. Sherri used to work in customer service for Wal-Mart, and I’m sure there’s a book or three in that, although I’m not sure any of them would be mysteries. Maybe the mystery of why someone thinks they have the right to return a phone they bought a year ago from an entirely different retail chain, but that’s more of a character driven type story. Perhaps we could write some sort of travel mysteries, which would allow us to see the world in the name of “research,” but something tells me that if we’ve already got Sudoku mysteries (and we do), then someone’s probably already thought of that scam.
Still, we daydreamed about the project off and on until we made two recent discoveries:
(1) Sherry pulled a novel about an army brat family since she grew up in one of those. It was one of her last remaining ideas, and it’s been taken.
(2) I read a review of a mystery that centers around a former dancer turned “cruise entertainment director.”
At this point, I’m not sure there’s any subject that hasn’t already been mined. We may have to give up our dream. The good news is, soon we’ll be able to buy lottery tickets.