Writing Cross-Genre: 1. “Sugar and Spice” Is About Food, But What About “All Those Lies”?

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sugar and spice
Sugar and spice
Two characters in Sugar and Spice and All those Lies commit crimes. The victim in both cases is Gina, the main character. One crime is more serious than the other and it pushes Gina to the edge of death.

Despite the crimes in the story, this book is not a cozy mystery. A detective comes, but not to solve whodunit questions nor to track down criminals to bring them to justice.

We know from the beginning of the criminal acts who the perpetrators are, and they’re not about to run away from the law. One suffers from depression, and the other feels so guilty she confesses and reports her crime to the police.

But the law must investigate crimes. The law must make decisions about how to deal with them. The police gather evidence so a prosecutor can determine whether to charge the perpetrators, and what crimes to charge them with. These elements may make the novel sound like a legal thriller. But it isn’t that either.

I had some trouble placing this novel in the neat categories readers often expect. And yet these actions, these events can happen to any person. Anywhere. Anytime. As they do to Gina. That’s real life and we just can’t pigeonhole life much of the time the way we try to do it in books.

I’m not unfamiliar with crime. I used to do research or program evaluation focusing on mental health issues like violence and drug use among certain criminal populations.

Violence, unfortunately, does happen. And in one instance, I witnessed it done on a relative. A dangerous world can exist out there and people we know, more often than not, are the ones who inflict injuries on their victims.

For want of a more specific genre to fit it into, Sugar and Spice and All Those Lies is Contemporary Women’s fiction—a broad uncertain genre—with a literary bent. Its focus is not on the sideshow of crimes committed. Rather, it’s on how they shape the kind of person Gina is.

Are the crimes in the story as big a force in Gina’s life as cooking inventive dishes and giving people joy and pleasure as they dine? That’s for the reader to decide. And that decision will color how they feel about the story and Gina, in particular.

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