The Paranormal and Mystery Fiction
By Jacqueline Seewald
I’ve noticed some reviewers look down their noses at mystery fiction that has a paranormal element. The criticism I’ve read is that the author is not playing fair with mystery readers if elements of the paranormal are included. Well, to them I would say that hasn’t hurt Charlaine Harris or Jacqueline Winspear develop a readership one bit.
The July/August 2010 issue of Writer’s Digest published an insightful interview with Charlaine Harris. I recommend reading it. Ms. Harris talks about how she reached her stellar position at the top of the bestseller list.
She started out by taking a creative writing course after finishing college—something other successful writers like Sara Paretsky have done. Ms. Harris’s several mystery novel series were successful and reached mid-list status. But pushing fifty, Ms. Harris wasn’t satisfied with this. She wanted to write a book that was unique, the kind of book that only she could write. So she tossed aside the usual rules of mystery writing and simply wrote what she really wanted to create. And this is the secret to her superstar success. Charlaine Harris wasn’t afraid to be different in style and subject and actually have fun with her writing. She enjoys her work and it shows.
Jacqueline Winspear’s historic mysteries feature Maisy Dobbs, a heroine who has certain psychic abilities and intuitions. I think this gives more depth and dimension to the main character and makes the novels more interesting.
When I started my Kim Reynolds’ series with THE INFERNO COLLECTION, I wanted to create a mystery thriller that had strong elements of romance and the paranormal as well. Each novel involves Kim in a new mystery. She uses her psychic abilities, but only reluctantly. Kim is unsure of herself. She wants to fit in and be “normal”. Instead, she is unique and cannot lead the life of a quiet librarian. In THE INFERNO COLLECTION, THE DROWNING POOL, and the newly released THE TRUTH SLEUTH, Kim uses her abilities to help solve murders. Mike Gardner, a homicide cop who also has psychic ability, comes to love Kim and wants to marry her. But circumstances come between them.
Here’s a bit from the beginning of THE TRUTH SLEUTH:
“What had started out as a pleasant afternoon began shifting to something quite different. Kim was developing an uncomfortable feeling of wrongness; a kind of prickling sensation slithered down her spine. She recognized the feeling for what it was but shook her head, trying to dispel the spasm of dread that suddenly gripped her. God, not this again! Would she ever be free of it?
Then Kim gasped, seized by a stab of pain. In her mind, she heard a silent scream, an astonished cry for help. She felt another’s panic and terror. She began to shiver and tremble.
“What’s the matter?” Bert asked, her dark brows rising then knitting together in concern.
“Someone’s been hurt.” Those were the only words she managed to choke out.
“Who? Where?” April asked, glancing around in confusion.
“Maybe we better have a look,” Bert said. Her height of six feet gave her an advantage over both Kim, who was five foot six inches, and April who was barely five foot two inches tall.
The crowd was starting to thin out, many bikers revving up their engines in anticipation of leaving now that today’s entertainment was over. Kim led, Bert and April following behind her. Although she was not really certain where she was going, Kim plowed blindly through the garbage-strewn grounds. And then she saw him: a very young man sitting in an aluminum beach chair, head slumped forward as if he were in a deep sleep.
“He’s dead,” Kim heard herself say with certainty. Her voice sounded hollow, expressionless and faraway, as if it belonged to someone else.
“Oh, God, are you sure?” April asked, tossing her gold-tinted curls as if to deny Kim’s statement.
“Kim’s got this gift of knowing stuff like that,” Bert said.
More like a curse, in Kim’s opinion.
Bert knelt down, at first not touching the body. “I don’t think he’s breathing.” Bert’s voice had taken on a note of professional authority. She looked and sounded like the seasoned policewoman she was. Bert felt for a pulse, then shook her head. “Don’t touch anything. I’m calling this in.” There was a grim expression on Bert’s café au lait features. She pulled a small cell phone out from the pocket of her black leather jacket.
Before Bert could make the call, Kim turned and faced her.
“There’s something I think you should know.”
“I’m listening.” Bert stood very still like a figure in a portrait.
Kim let out a ragged breath. “I think that boy was murdered.”
THE TRUTH SLEUTH can be checked out on Amazon, B&N Online, and Borders to name a few places. You can also put in a request for the book at your local library.
My novels, such as TEA LEAVES AND TAROT CARDS, a sensual paranormal historical novel, are in libraries throughout the English speaking world.