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History Mystery or Misery?
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I've heard rumblings that historical mysteries aren't selling. If a well known history mystery author like Lindsey Davis is having problems finding American and French publishers for her popular Falco series, it must be true.

That isn't good news for not so prominent historical mystery authors like Reed and Mayer. From the writer's point of view, it doesn't matter whether readers actually want to buy such books or not, because once the publishers conclude they don't, the markets vanish. Luckily, our publisher, Poisoned Pen Press, is not as market driven as most and likes historical mysteries to boot.

When Mary and I decided to write mysteries set in the 6th century Roman Empire, we weren't aware of all the realities of the publishing business. Marketing considerations never came into it. We were simply intrigued by the time period, balanced on the cusp of the classical and medieval worlds. We just thought, wow....neat! Let's write it!

Between us, we had already finished a humorous, practice novel, set in the current day and got 30,000 words into a more serious, contemporary, amateur detective book, but we had been co-authoring historical short stories for several years, and when our Byzantine novel was the first book to be both completed and sold, we became historical mystery authors. For better or -- we are now told -- for worse.

Should a writer change course for marketing reasons?

Given a number of possible concepts, all equally attractive, I'd have no hesitation in choosing to work on the idea likely to attract the most readers. Unfortunately one gets the impression that nobody today is interested in anything but contemporary thrillers and romances and, speaking for myself, neither genre intrigues me. I've read a few contemporary thrillers but have never felt any urge to write one.

Even when it comes to mysteries, Mary and I have batted around plenty of different concepts, every one a historical. Is that because we've come to think of ourselves as writers of historical mysteries? I believe, rather, it is because we both love history and, in my case, having immersed myself in fantasy and sf in my youth, I feel most comfortable writing about the alien world of the past.

However, I suppose I should go off now and start working up an urge to write a thriller.

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