The Journey from Cozy Mystery to Psychological Thriller
As Gayle Trent and as Amanda Lee, I write cozy mysteries. As Gayle Trent, I write the Daphne Martin Cake Decorating series set in Southwest Virginia and featuring a heroine who is starting her life over after a nasty divorce. I also write a series featuring a “sassy, sixty-something sleuth” named Myrtle Crumb. As Amanda Lee, I write the Embroidery Mystery series set on the Oregon coast. And, I’ve recently been contracted to write a Southern Café Mystery series under yet another name—Gayle Leeson. Why can’t I write the new series as Gayle Trent or Amanda Lee? To avoid a longwinded response, suffice it to say, the publisher suggested I do so.
I’m comfortable in the world of cozy mysteries. As you probably know, cozies are akin to Mayberry R.F.D. meets Desperate Housewives. All the major players live and work in the same area, many know each other, and an amateur sleuth helps solve the crime. Sex and violence are downplayed, and coarse language is avoided. The large-print versions of my books are in Thorndike’s “clean reads” program, if I’m not mistaken.
So why did I deviate from the tried and true to write a psychological thriller?
My family and I went to Savannah, Georgia on vacation and took a ghost tour. During the tour—as in my psychological thriller, In Her Blood—the tour guide related the story of the “witch” Alice Riley who was hanged in Wright Square. Alice was an indentured servant found guilty of murdering her master, William Wise. Her hanging was delayed because she was pregnant at the time of her sentencing. I wondered what became of her baby. The tour guide didn’t know but thought the child probably died. A few months prior to our visit to Savannah, I’d been working on a freelance article on the female serial killer Belle Gunness. In researching the article, I was fortunate enough to be able to speak with Ms. Gunness’s great-niece by phone. This woman had been conducting some research of her own for a book she was writing about her notorious ancestor. Struck by the thought of how disconcerting it would be to have a serial killer in one’s family tree, I asked her if she ever worried that Belle had passed along any murderous traits. She mentioned a family member who had a terrible and frightening temper. Naturally, my curiosity on the subject grew.
After taking the ghost tour and wondering what had happened to Alice Riley’s baby, the specter of the baby and the question of whether or not the inclination to murder could be genetic merged and grew into In Her Blood. I simply had to write the book in order to explore my own questions. And I felt there was no way to explore those questions within the boundaries of a cozy mystery. Writing In Her Blood gave me the opportunity to spread my wings a bit. Will I write another psychological thriller? Another standalone? If another story gets into my head the way this one did, then I will.
Please visit Gayle at http://www.gayletrent.com.
About This Author
G. V. Trent also writes as Gayle Trent and Amanda Lee. She typically writes cozy mysteries, and this is her first foray into the psychological mystery. She hopes you’ll enjoy it. Please visit the author online at http://www.gayletrent.com.
In Her Blood
Publisher: Devine Destinies (January 7, 2015)
Alexandra McCormick’s great-grandmother was a brutal serial killer in the early 1900’s. With her mother currently serving time in prison for murdering Alexandra’s stepfather, Alexandra decides to do her college research paper on whether or not the tendency to commit murder or other violent crimes may be passed on genetically. Her research takes her to Savannah, Georgia, a city built upon its dead. There, she meets Chad Greenway, whose ancestor is Alice Riley, the first woman hanged in the state of Georgia. Alice was hanged for killing her abusive master. As a freelance writer, Chad agrees to help Alexandra with her research provided he can write a story about her quest. Soon it seems everyone Alexandra meets winds up murdered.