And It’s Off!

I just sent the revised HARBORING EVIL manuscript to my agent. She had some great suggestions for improving the plot, which sounded simple when she described them, which didn’t turn out to be simple at all. But I feel the story is more mature, the characters more memorable. We shall see if she agrees.

HARBORING EVIL is a traditional mystery. Unlike MODEL FOR DECEPTION, the violence does not take place off-page. In discussing representation, the agent characterized it as Southern Gothic mystery. I had to research what that might mean. If this is what I’ve written, I’m proud to be in this group of Southern Gothic Mystery authors.

For me, the essential fact of the mystery is the protagonist, Coot Long, who was homeless for twenty years. His story is informed by my 8 years of facilitating/co-facilitating the Door of Hope Writing Group. Here’s the elevator pitch: Coot Long lived on the Memphis streets for decades. Now he’s using his street smarts to prove the kind woman who helped him get housed didn’t murder her husband—only to discover she might be at the center of a deadly gentrification scheme.

I’m not sure Coot’s homelessness will remain a central marketing feature of the story, which has a second plot consumed with Coot’s past. This plot is more Gothic, more atmospheric, spookier.

However the story is characterized, I’m hoping the agent can sell the manuscript—I’ve had 2 agents who could not sell 2 different manuscripts of mine. I’m also hoping lovers of mysteries will be intrigued by this unique protagonist (have you ever read a mystery where the homeless person is anything other than the victim?) I’m also hoping I get nominated for an Edgar. And that I win. These hopes are on a graduated scale of probability.

Here’s a photo of the Wolf River Harbor where the primary action—both past and present—takes place:


If you know of female mystery writers who write from the male point of view and do not focus on relationship plots, please leave their name in the comments. I’ve been randomly picking up mysteries, and I’m a little depressed by how few seem like the story I’ve written. I could use some reassurance that I have not, once again, written outside the established market. (See my hopes above)

homeless mystery novel, homeless sleuth, homeless writing group, homelessness in Memphis, mystery novels, southern gothic mystery, southern mystery

Comments (4)

  • This will be the third time I have written this thing only to have it disappear! I will try one more time but I am not going to correct any mismatch mistakes made because I am dictating it. I am not at all sure what is meant by not focusing “on relationship plots,“ but here is a list in no particular order of women crime riders and their male protagonist-detectives, All of whom should be read if you haven’t already. Any book should be chosen by its chronological order.
    Dorothy Sayers: lord peter wimsey
    Kate Atkinson: Jackson Brodie
    Elizabeth George: Lynley
    Louise Penny: inspector Gamache
    Marjorie Allingham: roderick Alleyn
    P d James: Dagliesch
    There are tons more of course.
    Cannot wait to read it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Stay in Touch with Ellen's Very Southern Voice Newsletter

Follow Ellen Morris Prewitt

Subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,254 other subscribers