Today I have a guest post written by the hilarious Josh Berk, author of The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin and his new book Guy Langman, Crime Scene Procrastinator (Which releases tomorrow!). Enjoy!
Heeeey, it's totally me, Berk guest posting on Zoe's blog. I'm making the rounds these days, guest-blogging, randomly calling morning radio shows, crashing bar mitzvahs. All to subtly find a way to talk about my new book (ahem, GUY LANGMAN, CRIME SCENE PROCRASTINATOR). Zoe gave me an assignment for my guest post. She was all "WRITE A GUEST POST ABOUT WHY YOU ALWAYS WRITE MYSTERIES. WHY DO YOU ONLY WRITE MYSTERIES, BERK, WHYYYYYY???" She really does write in all caps all the time, like she's yelling. It's unnerving.
So anyway, Zo', it is actually an interesting question and I'm happy to talk about it. The truth is: I never thought I'd be a mystery novelist. My favorite books are usually comedies, coming of age stories, or that hard-to-define genre of "literary novels." I'd read my share of mysteries, and very often enjoyed them, but wasn't an aficionado. And my own writing never veered that way. That is, until I fell asleep while watching Law & Order reruns and had my big idea* of a teen mystery novel starring a deaf kid in a coal mining town. (*That's not exactly how THE DARK DAYS OF HAMBURGER HALPIN came to me, but close enough.) I fell in love with that idea and had to teach myself how to write a mystery from scratch. It worked pretty well and landed me a book deal and all that happy jazz.
Then it came to write my second book. And well, if your first book is a mystery & you're trying to make a name for yourself out there in the publishing world, what is your second book going to be? A fantasy novel about elves? A verse novel about a girl struggling with an addiction to cold medicine? A fantasy novel in verse about an elf struggling with an addiction to cold medicine? Of course not. No one would read that. (Just kidding, I would totally read that.) You're going to write another mystery novel if you're smart and we all know how super-smart I am. (Did you see how I just made up that brilliant elf-addiction book off the top of my head?) Luckily I had an idea, pulled from real life, about a high school forensics team who finds a real dead body on a fake crime scene. (Here's the news story I was inspired by.) I started writing GUY LANGMAN and, yes, a second mystery novel was born. I was able to include a lot of humor in the book and a lot of coming-of-age elements as well, so to me I think of it as really part mystery, part ... something else.
I actually find that writing mysteries fit really well in YA because the main characters are often going through their own mystery called life. Haha, that sounded really corny. My point is, these coming-of-age stories feature characters trying to figure out "who am I?" which dovetails kind of nicely with the "who did it?" question at the core of a mystery novel. So there's your answer, Zoe. I do in fact have another mystery novel coming out next year but then after that ... who knows? Drug-addled elves, here we come!