Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Please Welcome Back Novelist Lauren Carr

Omnimystery News: Guest Author Post
by Lauren Carr

We are delighted to welcome back crime novelist Lauren Carr as our guest.

Lauren's most recent book is the first in a new series, Dead on Ice: A Lovers in Crime Mystery (Acorn Book Services, September 2012 trade paperback and ebook formats). She also has the fourth mystery in her "Mac Faraday" series coming out next month … and she's provided us a sneak peek at the cover (below).

Today Lauren writes about a topic of interest to many readers: How bloody is your mystery? And how much violence is too much?

— ♦ —

Is your book suitable for twelve year old?

Lauren Carr
Photo provided courtesy of
Lauren Carr

A couple of years ago, I had written a play, which was performed at a local dinner theater. Of course, my books were on sale at the theater, and I was thrilled to be asked to sign copies for members of the audience.

At one point, a woman asked me to sign It's Murder, My Son for her granddaughter. "Is it suitable for a twelve year old?"

"Why of course," I replied without hesitation and signed away.

Moments later, a friend who had been standing nearby chewed me out. My books, she asserted, are not suitable for twelve year olds. They include murder in them.

Gee, I thought, the grandmother had to already know the book had a murder in it. First clue: It's Murder, My Son.

I'm not the person to ask about if a murder mystery is suitable for a twelve year old. My mother read Perry Mason to me at bedtime. I was reading Earl Stanley Gardner and Agatha Christie by the time I was ten years old.

When asked about if my books are suitable for twelve year olds, I scan the contents in my mind:

• Sex? Yes, there is premarital sex, but it all happens behind closed doors. What happens behind the closed door is left up to the reader's imagination.

• Violence: Yes, people are killed. They are murder mysteries. But I don't have body parts and blood flying all over the place.

• Swearing: Not unless it is suitable to that particular character. None of my main characters use foul language.

I have determined that my books are clean, and several reviewers have done so as well.

Selecting a murder mystery for a twelve year old is a difficult task.

First, we need to look at the twelve year old in question. How sophisticated is this pre-teenager? The daughter of the friend who chastised me out has a very sheltered life. However, I know other twelve year olds who have read all of the Twilight series. Does the child in question watch CSI on television, or is she still into The Big Red Dog on PBS? That's something the author at a book event can't answer.

A parent can't simply go by the genre tag of "Mystery." Beneath the genre of mystery, there is a whole breakdown of sub-genres, too many for me to post here. So, whether it be for a pre-teenager or yourself if you are squeamish about gore and violence — when looking for a mystery you need to look closely at the book and the sub-genre it falls under.

When considering what type of murder mystery is suitable for a pre-teenager, I suggest looking at the book's focus.

Is the plotline focused on the murder or the mystery of solving the murder?

I have found that some mystery sub-genres focus on the puzzle of solving the murder. Authors of these books seek to challenge their readers to solve the murder before the killer is revealed. Not only does the protagonist need to solve the puzzle to catch the killer, but they are also challenged in catching the killer in such a way that the evidence will stand up court and the killer doesn't walk away.

Cozies are almost always a safe bet. The general rule for a cozy mystery: Amateur investigator and murder happens off-stage. Among the cozies, you can find further sub-categories, which have become sub-genres of their own: bumbling detective, furry detective (I guess Gnarly can be called a furry detective), culinary detective, and hobby mysteries. If the twelve year old has a particular hobby, most likely you can find a cozy mystery in that area. There are tons of other murder mysteries under this subgenre.

Other mystery sub-genres focus on the murder itself. In an effort to thrill their readers, authors will push the envelope with graphic murders, which will happen "on-stage". They will contain scenes of torture or rape. Many times, these mysteries will also contain graphic sex, which may also happen "on-stage" and foul language. Like amusement parks constantly coming out with the next biggest baddest roller coaster to outdo their last one, authors of these types of mysteries are challenged with each book to make it more suspenseful and sensational than the last one. Generally, many mysteries that fit into this category will be stalker, serial killer books, and police procedurals. These graphic murder mysteries will be bloody and violent — not suitable for twelve year olds, in my opinion.

Notice, I said generally.

The wave of authors publishing independently of commercial publishers has freed mystery writers from writing inside a box forcing them to stick to the rules of genres and sub-genres. For example, I have had reviewers refer to my books as "gritty cozies". Because some murders do happen on-stage, they are grittier. However, I make an effort to make these murders quick and "polite".

How do you pick a mystery for a twelve-year old?

• Think about the child in question. Find out what he or she is reading now. If she's reading Fifty Shades of Grey, then anything goes and you have nothing to worry about (literature-wise, that is).

• Take a look at the book you are considering. Read the book description and study the cover. These are both good indicators for the tone for the book. Does it have a fluffy dog on the cover? Or does it have a comical tone? If so, it's probably a cozy, which is safe.

• Visit the author's website. Websites tell a lot about the author and their books. That's their purpose. Often, you can download sample chapters from the author's website for free. There is no better way to know if the book is suitable than to read part of it yourself.

I guess this also begs another question, which the friend who chewed me out was actually suggesting: Are murder mysteries suitable for twelve year olds? Well, the only way I can answer that is by pointing out that I was reading murder mysteries when I was twelve and I turned out okay.

I think. Depends on who you ask.

— ♦ —

Lauren Carr fell in love with mysteries when her mother read Perry Mason to her at bedtime. The first installment in the Joshua Thornton mysteries, A Small Case of Murder was a finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Award.

Blast from the Past by Lauren Carr

Lauren is also the author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. Blast from the Past, the fourth in the series in which Mac finds himself up to his eyeballs with mobsters and federal agents, will be released January 2013.

Released September 2012, Dead on Ice introduces a new series entitled "Lovers in Crime", which features prosecutor Joshua Thornton with homicide detective Cameron Gates. Real Murder, the second book in this series will be released Spring 2013.

The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This spring, two books written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services.

Lauren lives with her husband, son, and two dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.

A Gnarly Christmas by Lauren Carr

For readers, who have fallen in love with Gnarly, Mac Faraday's German Shepherd, Lauren is making available a free copy of A Gnarly Christmas: A Mystery Short (epub format; click on the image, right, to download). It is Christmas day and Gnarly has been up to his old tricks again. Now he's in the dog house — or rather the boathouse — after stealing the Christmas feast! Moments after Archie and Mac leave Spencer Manor, Gnarly hears a call for help from Rocky, the Maltese down the street. Four assassins for hire have invaded the home of Rocky's elderly owners. While the home invaders wait for instructions from a mysterious caller, Gnarly must plot to stop them. Can Gnarly save Christmas with only the help of an 8-pound Maltese dressed in an elf suit? This download also includes Lucky Dog: A Mac Faraday Mystery Short Story.

You can learn more about Lauren and her books by visiting her website at MysteryLady.net, reading her Literary Wealth blog, or following her on Facebook and Twitter. She can be reached directly at [email protected].

— ♦ —

Dead on Ice by Lauren Carr

Dead on Ice
Lauren Carr
A Lovers in Crime Mystery (1st in series)

Pennsylvania State Police homicide detective Cameron Gates is tasked with solving the murder of Cherry Pickens, a legendary star of pornographic films, whose body turns up in an abandoned freezer. The case has a personal connection to her lover, Hancock County Prosecuting Attorney Joshua Thornton, because the freezer was located in his cousin's basement.

It doesn't take long for their investigation to reveal that the risqué star's roots were buried in their rural Ohio Valley community, something that Cherry had kept off her show business bio. She should have kept her hometown off her road map, too — because when this starlet came running home from the mob, it proved to be a fatal homecoming.

Amazon.com Print and/or Kindle Edition  Barnes&Noble Print Edition and/or Nook Book  Indie Bound: Independent Bookstores

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Omnimystery for welcoming me back today. It is always a pleasure.
    "Is your murder mystery suitable for my twelve year old?" is a question that always stumps me. That's why writing this guest post was an exploration for me to write. I would love to hear other authors or parents suggestions in selecting mysteries for pre-teens.

    ReplyDelete

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