Monday, November 3, 2014

The Wide World of Mystery

By Mary Vesel White

I didn’t know what to expect from my first mystery convention. I often tell people, after all, that my first novel is a mystery that’s not really a mystery. When I wrote The Qualities of Wood, my idea was to play around with the genre a little, by writing a story with a mystery in it that would end up being about discoveries of another nature. Some called it a literary mystery, so I took the opportunity to dip my toes in the mystery pond by signing up for that first convention. I wondered if I’d feel like a fish out of water, whether I’d be accepted amongst the writers of “true” mysteries. This was a couple of years ago, a gathering much smaller than Bouchercon. But to me, it still felt like a pretty big crowd. It was also the first fan get-together I’d attended. I’d been to several conferences—some of them geared towards aspiring writers, almost all of them inclusive of all types of books. I’d never seen a group of readers gathered to celebrate a certain type of story. Because mystery readers love them some mystery, don’t they? Everywhere I went at that convention, I met readers who were so enthusiastic, so welcoming and curious, I couldn’t help but feel at ease. And most of them read A LOT and not just mystery, but all sorts of things. 

I discovered that mystery didn’t just mean one thing, not at all. In fact, there are so many subgenres, it’s hard to imagine you can ever know all of them. From cozy to historical, from romantic suspense to police procedural, from crime to noir to legal to amateur sleuth, and the endless variations if you decide to mix these sub genres—I discovered the world of mystery is a wide and deep one, and pretty inviting even to someone like me, who had written a literary novel with a mystery in it. I learned so much at that first conference, made new friends and discovered new writers, and I can’t wait to test of the waters of this larger pond, Bouchercon. It’s another first time, but I know there will be room for me, room for all of us. Aside from the panel and signings I’ll be participating in as an author, I imagine it’ll be difficult to plan the rest of my time as a reader, because of the variety of presentations, interviews and panels, and the many, many types of mystery books to learn about. But this is one mystery I’m glad to solve. Counting down to next month, can’t wait!

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