Sunday, November 1, 2009

Mixing Genres by Dana Fredsti

It seems to me that there are a lot more sub-genres than there used to be. More hybrids. Erotic romance. Paranormal romance. Paranormal mysteries. Historical mysteries,supernatural mysteries... well, the list goes on.

I have become a lot more aware of all of these mixed genres since a: searching for favorite authors in bookstores and finding them in unlikely places and b: writing for Ravenous Romance, which just upped the ante for mixed genres with their anthology HUNGRY FOR YOUR LOVE.

Yes, romance and zombies.

Zombies are relatively new in terms of mainstream popularity, but they've already shambled their way into the horror market, the paranormal market as bit players, YA, and now...romance. For those that say it's just wrong, St. Martin's Press bought the print rights to HUNGRY FOR YOUR LOVE. This pleases me as I have a story in the anthology. :-)

I wrote a story several (okay, lots of several) years ago that I called 'zombie noir.' It was originally published in DANGER CITY , a noir anthology published by Contemporary Press. I was the only female author in the the book. The story, A MAN'S GOTTA EAT WHAT A MAN'S GOTTA EAT, prompted my father to say I wrote like a misogynistic drunken man. His observation probably explains why, when I showed up at the book launch party in Greenwich Village (yes, I wore black!), the publishers were surprised to see a dame.

In the spirit of Halloween, I am posting the opening paragraphs of this story as an example of mixed genre, specifically zombie noir. I hope you enjoy the excerpt.

Oh. Profanity warning. Not much, but a little.

The name’s T-Bone. Chuck T-Bone. I’m a private detective. You know, a P.I., a dick, a gumshoe. To be specific, I find missing people. It’s always been my specialty, even before the big change. After I died I changed my name to fit my new life - though ‘life’ might not be the right word under the circumstances.

Back in the old days, I was Charles Tyrone of Tyrone’s Investigative Services. But I bought it while doing a job for a prominent family - an Italian family with connections in all the wrong places. They paid me well and I’ve never had enough money to be choosy about who I work for. I’ve always tried to stay on the clean side of the law but it ain’t easy, even these days.

Yeah, I’m a zombie. Undead, living dead, ghoul, take your pick. I say we’re just ordinary guys and dolls trying to earn an honest day’s wages and put food on the table, same way we did before this zombie crap really started to hit the fan. You know, back a year or so when the dead starting refusing to stay buried. Having corpses walking around in various states of decay was bad enough, but then it became obvious that the deads’ favorite past-time was chowing down on the living. You’d step outside of your house and bam! Instant corpse kibble.

It was Wednesday morning, the middle of a hot July week. Smog lay over the San Fernando Valley in a thick haze and it was hotter than the Sahara outside. I was kicking back in my office, air conditioner cranked to the max as I waited for a new case to keep me in grub and pay the bills. Used to be that J.D. took up most of my pay but now I only drink it out of habit.

These days it was more important to pay the bills, especially the electricity so you could keep your home and your workspace nice and frosty. Dead meat rots if you don’t keep it cold. I was still in pretty good shape after six months. A little green around the gills, maybe, but nothing major. One of these days I was gonna go down to one of the local mortuary joints and get myself embalmed. But that took more do-re-mi than I had to spare, so in the meantime I’d make due with my J.D. I figure my insides must be fairly pickled as is.

It had started out to be a slow week and so far there were no signs of things getting on the speed track. My bank account was flatter than a ten year old in a training bra and if something didn’t break soon, I was gonna join the lines at the unemployment office.

I was just starting to sink into a depression darker than an African night when the door opened and she walked in. She didn’t knock, but then trouble rarely waits to be invited. Tall and still lusciously curved, she swayed towards me. This could’ve been on account of the fact that her dainty feet were encased in black stiletto heels, the kind that said “fuck me but don’t ask me to walk.” Nice gams, kind of slender, so slender that in a couple of places I could see bone showing beneath the seamed stockings.
Her hair, where it still clung to her scalp, was blond and luxuriant. Heavy make-up gave her once porcelain, now bluish complexion an almost natural skin tone, marred only by a gash across one cheek that no expensive mortician’s putty could hide. Her nails were painted red to match her lipstick and her low-necked, curve-clinging satin dress. A black silk scarf draped around her throat and shoulders didn’t quite conceal the gaping wound where someone had given her the King Kong of hickeys right above the collar bone. Her peepers were still an icy blue, but Brother, all the Visine in the world couldn’t get the red out.

All in all, I wouldn’t kick her out of my bed.

I would love to know all of your favorite or least favorite examples of mixed genres! What works for you and what doesn't? Inquiring Danas wanna know!

Dana Fredsti
MURDER FOR HIRE: The Peruvian Pigeon (James A. Rock Inc, Yellowback Mysteries Imprint)
RIPPING THE BODICE (Ravenous Romance, as Inara LaVey)
Member, Sisters in Crime (National & NorCal Chapters)
Events Coordinator, SinC NorCal

TECHNICAL DIFFICULTIES HAPPENED, So I posted Dana's entry again, but I'm saving part of the original because she did have a comment we don't want overlooked.


Dana Fredsti said...

Thank you, Morgan! I have no idea why the formatting went wonky here...

Dave, I think you really can put everything with spicy romance!

Other Lisa said...

Heh! I think mixing genres is something we will continue to see more and more of. Even with "literary" fiction -- the stuff that's getting published tends to be "literary" combined with something else.

I can't say that I have a favorite, but I definitely love mysteries with a literary flair.

Jack C. Young said...

More zombie noir. Definitely! (I know I'm late in commenting but I just now discovered your post. Very happy to hear that Lori's anthology will turn into an actual solid book. (I loves my volumes, yessss, precccccioussssssssssssss, I does!)
Just let your imagination play. I guarantee that I will enjoy what turns up. LOL!