Sue Grafton writes female P.I. mysteries. Clive Cussler writes adventure thrillers. They, like most successful writers, have found their so-called niche in the writing world. Wisely, they stick to it.
After eight Regency romances and one wagon train saga, my niche was definitely historicals. Then the plot for Deadly Gamble
popped into my head and wouldn’t go away. A haunted casino in Las Vegas—skeptical heroine in very big trouble—deadly séance—gruesome death of a porn star—unguessable twist in the plot. How could I resist? I broke the unwritten rule and faced the perils of switching genres.
There were challenges. Fast forward 200 years from the elegant high society of Regency England, to the glitzy informality of a Las Vegas casino. Fashions—manners—morals—society itself—everything’s different. In 1813, find a husband topped every single young lady’s “things to do” list. If she didn’t, she’d end up a disgraced old spinster, dependent upon relatives for support. That’s not to say marriage isn’t important in 2015, but let’s face it, not so much. In Deadly Gamble, Kristi just got out of a bad marriage. She’s much more interested in climbing the corporate ladder than finding another man—at least for now—and has far more important problems to deal with.
One thing for sure, I had to be just as accurate with my contemporary story as with my historicals. Even though my imagination ran wild in Deadly Gamble with such things as ghostly voices, powerful spells, etc., there were some areas where I couldn’t just make it up. Before I wrote my first disaster scene, I had to determine if there was such a thing as a deadly escalator accident. Searching the Internet, I was amazed at how many accidents there have been, many of them fatal mishaps with causes ranging from “suddenly reversed direction” to “the victims fell into the gaping hole.” Old newspaper accounts told me exactly how and why the accident happened—very handy indeed for writing my descriptions.
The same with my fatal waterbed scene. First, I had to find out if anyone had actually been killed in a waterbed. Again, an Internet search told me yes, it has happened more than once, and from various causes, one of which I used in the book.
After Deadly Gamble, I switched back to another western saga and wrote Wagon Train Cinderella. There’s so much going on along the Overland Trail, I couldn’t resist.
Should I have stuck to my original genre, Regency romances? Looking back, I suppose for the sake of my career I should have stuck to writing Regencies. On the other hand, I’ve enjoyed writing about Indian raids–buffalo stampedes, dangerous river crossings and all the other excitement that goes with a wagon train traveling the overland Trail. On second thought, I wouldn’t change a thing.