(V.K. is author of the well-written inaugural release DEATH BEFORE SWINE).
How Mystery Found Me
By V.K. Scott
It all started with a song.
When I was sixteen years old, I stumbled onto the music of John Zorn. Commonly described as a jazz artist, Zorn’s compositions range from experimental to klezmer to classical string trios to... Well, you get the idea. The guy’s eclectic.
Looking to expand my musical horizons, I picked up an album titled Spillane at my local CD store (remember those?) with the money I’d earned working the summer at Fry’s. I took it home and put it in my stereo.
My ears were happy. Clocking in at 25 minutes, “Spillane” was a musical journey through seedy nightclubs and rain-slicked alleys. Saxophone riffs faded into the sound of echoed footsteps and thunder. A man’s deep voice narrated: “I feel like I just smoked a deck of cigarettes and forgot to blow out the smoke... There are only so many ways a woman can undress. I thought I’d seen them all.” It sounded like, well, the soundtrack to a fast-moving film noir.
Now, the music won’t be to everyone’s taste (probably not even most everyone). But that’s not the point. The point is this: I read the liner notes and discovered that “Spillane” was, in fact, an homage to writer Mickey Spillane.
I dug more and found “I, the Jury,” at a used bookstore. After knocking through it in a few days, I was hooked for life.
Mystery had found me.
I do think the seeds of my mystery love had been planted earlier, in reading the Encyclopedia Brown books and watching Columbo with my father.
But “Spillane,” the composition, and Spillane, the writer, were what did me in. It wasn’t so much the whodunit, or even the “howdunit” either. It was the atmosphere, the feel of slithering through a world gone wrong. And maybe, if the protagonist was smart enough, and quick enough, he’d live to fix a small part of it… at least until the next book.
Fast forward another decade and a half. My first book, Death Before Swine, is now out. I’ll give you three guesses what the genre is. It certainly isn’t hardboiled like Spillane (I’ve come to like my mysteries a least a shade or two lighter than noir), but the influence is still there, lurking in the background.
When I think back on it all, the whole series of events serves as a reminder to follow life where it leads me. Whether it’s to new music, new books, or the decision to self-publish, I try to remember not to be afraid of change.
So that’s how I found my genre. How did you find yours? Was it as simple as picking up a book with a neat-looking cover, or was your path more twisted, like mine? If you’re not a writer, how did you find your favorite genre to read?
For updates on V.K. Scott and his writing, you can read his blog at http://vkscott.blogspot.com or follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/AuthorVKScott.