I write mysteries.
There. I said it out loud.
For the last 25 years I’ve been writing with a secret in my heart. Yes, I love science fiction and fantasy.
But, I also adore mysteries.
All of them, noir, true crime, pulpy, cozy, romantic suspense.
If you’ve read my Cybil Lewis series, you know I enjoy a noir, cyberpunkish story. My anime loves are also around futuristic noir, like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, PsychoPass, Cowboy Bebop, Akira, and others. You can find a list of the top 25 noir anime at https://www.ranker.com/list/best-noir-anime-v1/ranker-anime.
I have struggled to find an appropriate label for the types of mysteries I write. In publishing, labels are important to help readers, reviewers, and other authors navigate the large swath of available titles. So, it’s important to label the stories with the correct tags or else readers won’t find your work or worse, they buy it thinking it is something else. Those lead to horrible reviews and frustrated readers. Two things authors don’t want.
Which brings me to what to call my delicious mysteries. At their core, they’re whodunits, PIs and police procedurals with female protagonists. That’s what they are at their core. Yet, the settings and worlds they inhabit are very much situated in fantastic kingdoms (Kingdom of Aves) or the near future, post-war DC (The Cybil Lewis Series), or in a galaxy far, far away (The Minister Knights of Souls). This isn’t unusual in and of itself. Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files are a prime example of these mystery fantasy blends. What label does one give to these types of stories?
So, I went to the ‘ZON. While scrolling through the many titles that are similar to mine, like Altered Carbon. They are just as confused as I am. Some of them are firmly planted in science fiction, fantasy, and those sub-genres like cyberpunk, and others were listed in mysteries and their various sub-genres.
My series are all placed in various genres to, but how best to market myself as an author. For 20 years I have labeled myself a science fiction, fantasy and horror writer. And I am. But almost most of my stories hold strong suspense, if not outright mystery elements.
Introducing a new label: speculative mystery writer!
Definition: Speculative mystery is a sub-genre of both mystery and speculative fiction that is a mystery set in a science fiction or fantasy setting.
What do you think? Does that label cover the series that I write and enjoy? I think so. Feel free to let me know your thoughts by commenting below or contacting me on Twitter at @nicolegkurtz.