As I was wrapping up the editing process for Hunt Club, I learned that part of promoting a book is figuring out the proper genre. Indeed, word has it some publishers won’t even bother with a book that doesn’t fall squarely into an easy to promote category.
This weighed a bit on my thoughts. In trying to make my story something new and different, I might have crossed a genre or two. I didn’t want to disappoint someone looking for a hot sexy vampire romance or a hard bitten police procedural set in a big tough city.
My story actually takes place in a small city, where a historical hotel is hosting a ghost hunters convention. One of the celebrity guests is murdered. The local police detective finds a very old ally of his law enforcing ancestors and ropes her into the investigation. They encounter lots of unusual characters, have some scary near misses, and perhaps experience a ghost sighting or two.
I considered calling it an urban fantasy, but it brings to mind stories that take place in big tough cities, whereas my imaginary town of Findwell is more like the small cities in Missouri and Arkansas which have become so familiar to me. “Southern Vampire Story” doesn’t fit either. I don’t really consider myself in the south until I get to central Arkansas, where they begin talking funny and serving ridiculously decadent food. (I mean that with the greatest affection.)
I toyed with the idea of calling it a “Paranormal Murder Mystery.” I really didn’t want to over-emphasize the vampire part and the term “Paranormal” seemed to encompass the fantasy elements of the story without making the reader expect elves and magic quests. Unfortunately, I’ve been assured that in the world of book selling, the term “Paranormal” is becoming inseparably bound to “Romance.” Using it in the description might disappoint those hoping to read about entities that bump and grind in the night.
Somewhere in the midst of my pondering, I started running into the term “Cozy’ associated with murder mysteries. It sounded humorous to me, like a contradiction in terms (“Does it qualify as a cold-blooded murder if you were wearing a parka?”)
I finally looked up some information on the genre, just for fun, only to end up a little bewildered. My story actually did seem to have most of the qualifying elements.
1) It’s set in a small community.
2) The main character is female and not officially on the force. She has relatives of a sort who bring her in on cases from time to time.
3) Supporting characters tend to be a bit eccentric. Since most of mine are either employees at an allegedly haunted hotel, or guests at a convention, this seems to me quite realistic. I’ve been to a lot of different conventions and met many weird and wonderful people. Nobody acts normal at a convention unless it is work related. (Sometimes, not even then).
4) Little if any cussing. Sex and violence are also downplayed.
5) There are references to a few genteel hobbies.
6) Oh, and there’s a cat in the story too.
Have I invented a new genre? If you have read “Hunt Club,” let me know if you think “Cozy Vampire Murder Mystery” is a good description. If you haven’t yet read it yet, it can be ordered as an e-book on Amazon.