Let’s Talk with Nancy J Cohen

Discovering a New Genre
by Nancy J. Cohen

Do you remember which books hooked you on the genres you love? For me, mysteries are easy. I grew up on Nancy Drew, Cherry Ames, and Judy Bolton. Cherry Ames inspired me to become a nurse, while Judy Bolton taught me that characters in a series need to grow and change.

This interest segued into romantic suspense when I discovered Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, and Phyllis Whitney. And then I found Barbara Cartland. This queen of Regency romance introduced me to historical romance, a genre I still love today. In a way, this prepared me for the historical mysteries that I currently read.

As for the cozy mystery, it was Jill Churchill’s “punny” titles, such as War and Peas, that attracted me to this genre. Mystery, humor and a touch of romance—what was not to like? Diane Mott Davidson introduced me to the culinary mystery. Now we have a broad selection of choices in this genre.

I’d also read spy novels and men’s adventure at one point, probably because my father loved to read them. We ate up Alistair Maclean, Nick Carter, and Clive Cussler. But I gravitated away from these books toward titles with female leads.

For purely escapist reading, I like fantasy and science fiction. Strong female heroines are a must for me in these genres. But where did this interest start? I can’t put my finger on any particular book. Was it Lord of the Rings epic fantasy series for that genre? Star Trek on TV for the scifi? To this day, I love a good scifi space opera story with a female at the helm or a fantasy where a woman discovers her special powers.

Then there’s futuristic or scifi romance, as it’s now called. I have to thank Marilyn Campbell for awakening me to this genre. A published author and critique partner, she urged me to write one of these. I did, and this book became my first published novel. Circle of Light went on to win the HOLT Medallion Award.

At any one time, I’ll be reading three books in different genres. Like now, I’m reading a cozy mystery, historical military adventure, and a fantasy novel. There are just too many good books out there to narrow my focus to one genre alone.

Do you remember how you got started on the genres you love? Which ones do you currently read? Leave a comment below and your name will be entered into a drawing for an ebook copy of Silver Serenade, one of my science fiction romances. Maybe you’ll discover a new genre with exciting horizons to explore.

AND, while you’re here, click over to our Contest page where there are lovely reading choices you could win to help you Fall into a Good Mystery! Click HERE.

Comments

  1. Phyllis McGuire says

    I love cozy mysteries but I like to read from all genres. As far as when I don’t remember. I do know that I have always loved a mystery…a whodunit even as a child watching Scooby Doo or Mr. Magoo. I hope I’ll always be an avid reader!!

  2. I got started on culinary cozies by the covers and by reading the blurbs and after I read the first one, I was hooked. Now I read all types of cozies and other types of mysteries.

  3. I started reading cozies again (after growing up with Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew) after wandering into a mystery bookstore in Boulder, CO. I found the first of Carolyn Hart’s Death on Demand series. I ended up pretty much reading every book she mentioned in it and the rest was history! I started reading fantasy after being bored one day and grabbing my husband’s copy of The Hobbit off the shelf to read. Then, Terry Pratchett was recommended by my brother in law and I was absolutely hooked. Now if I am not reading a cozy, I’m reading Urban Fantasy.

  4. charlene capodice says

    I loved Nancy Drew books and loved anything to do with ancient history. I read just about any genre depending on my mood. I love to read Christmas books in the summer! Love your bad hair day series!

  5. Rita Pierrottie says

    When I was a kid I read all the usual such as Nancy Drew,etc. As an adult, Carolyn Haines’ Sarah Booth mysteries and Denise Swaneon’s Scumble River mysteries hooked me into cozy mysteries.

  6. dianestuckart says

    LOL, what Maggie said. 🙂 I truly wish we could resurrect the traditional gothic novel as written by Mary, Victoria, and Phyllis, as well as the original (60s/70s era) Barbara Michaels novels. I know a couple of publishers have tried with limited success. Those are my comfort reads and have always been an influence on my writing.

    • Those gothic stories are akin to today’s romantic suspense novels. They’re scarier books than cozy mysteries and have the heroine in jeopardy, but hopefully she’s more proactive than in those earlier books.

  7. After reading the traditional Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and Walter Farley novels, my gateway books into adult reading were 3 authors you mentioned: Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, and Phyllis Whitney. I became an armchair traveler and especially enjoyed stories that were set by the sea. Along the way I discovered I liked how mythology and belief fit into action stories, and for quieter moments, I liked romances and light mystery. I grew up watching Star Trek, which led to my opening the door to science fiction and later fantasy. Truly, these days I am a book omnivore as long as the story carries the day.

    • We share many of the same reading interests including scifi/fantasy. We’ve both utilized mythology in our scifi romances. Now I like space opera especially with female starship captains.

  8. Cherry Ames was also my first introduction to mystery. A neighbor several years older than I was offered me her collection after she’d outgrown them. I’ve always been an extremely eclectic reader. I’ll skip around from mystery to history and just about anything in-between, with the exception of books with vampires, werewolves, and other shapeshifters. I don’t care for those.

    • I’m with you on the vamps, werewolves and shapeshifters. They don’t appeal to me, either. I can tolerate witches, genies, and mermaids, though, maybe because it’s lighter fare.

  9. I started reading Westerns with Zane Grey, Owen Wister, Max Brand, and Louis L’Amour. It wasn’t until I read all the Westerns in our small branch library that I discovered another genre — Mysteries. I haven’t looked back.

  10. You named two of my favorites — Cherry Ames (and the Bobbsey Twins) were some of my first mystery loves…. and then I discovered Jill Churchill’s books (as well as Diane Mott Davidson) and knew I’d found the area I wanted to write in.

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