This was a very exciting week for my dear friend Kate Moretti with the launch of her much-anticipated thriller THE VANISHING YEAR. Kate is here today to share her thoughts on the how today’s popular genre of thrillers featuring women protagonists meshes with the genre of women’s fiction so many of us read and write.
Here’s the endorsement I was honored to write for THE VANISHING YEAR:
“Engaging, intriguing, heart pounding. In The Vanishing Year, Kate Moretti brings us the story of a Zoe Whittaker who has whitewashed her past and taken on a new and pristine identity. Of course, nothing is exactly as it seems to Zoe, and nothing is as it seems to the reader either. The twists had me gasping, the details had me transfixed. I cared about Zoe right away, which along with everything else, made it impossible for me to stop reading this book.”
Don’t miss out on THE VANISHING YEAR or Kate’s post. Explore for yourself how well these two genres blend together.
And please welcome Kate to WFW today!
Women’s Fiction Merges with Suspense
by Kate Moretti
The genre of “Women’s Fiction” has been debated about for eons. The Women’s Fiction Writer’s Association says the story must revolve around the internal journey of a woman. Our own Amy Sue Nathan has said that in her novels, the main character saves herself.
It seems natural to marry Women’s Fiction and, say, romance. It also seems natural to marry Suspense and Thriller or Mystery. What comes less intuitively is this new boom in what seems to conjoin Women’s Fiction and Suspense, otherwise known as The Domestic Suspense novel.
Sarah Weinman coined the term Domestic Suspense after her compilation anthology “Troubled Daughters, Twisted Wives.” She called these noir writers of the 40’s through the 70’s the grandmothers of the genre, citing Patricia Highsmith, Shirley Jackson (of The Lottery fame), Vera Caspary, Margaret Millar as influential figures.
What I’ve seen in a rise in (in a post Gone Girl world), and absolutely adore, is this exploration into the a women’s internal journey while in the throes of something completely horrible, like a crime. I feel like the deepest truths emerge if you push your characters to the extreme, which to me almost always means the threat of life. I love the richness of this, there’s so much to dig through here.
How long will it take for a housewife to lie/steal/cheat/kill to protect her marriage/child/livelihood? This is the theme in Megan Abbott’s You Will Know Me. When a tragic fire seriously injures two college students, what lengths will their mothers, best friends and sister-in-laws, go to to unravel the truth, even if it means casting blame on the other? This was the story behind Carla Buckley’s The Good Goodbye. A victim of a serial killer escapes, grows up, has a daughter and becomes convinced her childhood testimony put the wrong man behind bars. Is she willing to risk the safety of her daughter to possibly exonerate the wrongly imprisoned? You’d have to read Black Eyed Susans, by Julia Heaberlin to find out. I’ve read all three of these books and continue to be impressed with the richness of character and the examination of the human condition, generally a trait of upmarket or literary stories.
These novels might be classified as suspense novels, but they have all the earmarks of Women’s Fiction. What they hold dearest is familiar to us: children, husbands, family, livelihood. Their journey is both external and internal – after all, you can’t risk everything and everyone you love and remain unchanged at the end. Life, and fiction, doesn’t work like that.
When you think of traditional mystery novels, you think of detectives and whodunnits. You think of police procedures or even possibly gun and car chases. While excellent (I love a good procedural), my interest mainly lie in these stories where the main characters are simply regular people, doing regular things, until they’re pushed to a breaking point. Where is that point? How far can you (as a writer) push? What emerges from that break is a wholly different character, for good or bad. The women in these novels undergo a pretty drastic internal transformation and this is where the heart of these stories lie.
Kate Moretti is the New York Times Bestselling author of Thought I Knew You, While You Were Gone, and Binds That Tie. Her newest novel, The Vanishing Year will be available fall 2016. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two kids. She’s worked in the pharmaceutical industry for ten years as a scientist, and has been an avid fiction reader her entire life. She enjoys traveling and cooking, although with two kids, a day job, and writing, she doesn’t get to do those things as much as she’d like.
Her lifelong dream is to buy an old house with a secret passageway.