Splits, Murders and Happy Endings

by Janis Patterson

I have a split personality. No, really it’s true. I do.

Part of the time – as Janis Patterson – I delight in writing the foulest murder, stories of people who exterminate their fellows without a thought or qualm – and what is really scary is that I like it! I delight in finding new and obscure ways of killing someone, and am absolutely over the moon when I discover how such a heinous act can be gotten away with scot-free. (The only unfunny part of this was when in real life a truly creepy person asked me if I do consulting. Brrrrr…..)

However – the rest of the time – as Janis Susan May – love-across-time-cover I’m an unabashed romantic who writes tender stories of two imperfect people surmounting obstacles and finally find the perfection of true love. I adore giving them trials and misunderstandings and difficulties and differences of opinion, making it seem that they will never get together… then just when things look darkest bringing them together in a satisfying happily-ever-after ending.

And never, hopefully, shall the twain meet.

So what causes this rather radical dichotomy? I have no idea. I just know that some stories demand romance and hearts and flowers, while others have to have revenge and murder. Those of you who know me know a little about my working process – I don’t plot and I don’t do character sheets or anything like that. The stories just come… and so do the characters, independent people who simply walk in, tell me their name (and Heaven help me if I try to change it) and what they’re going to do. Far too many times I don’t feel like I am writing but instead merely transcribing.

It makes for an interesting work process. On the other hand, I am never bored. And neither are my readers.

For example, my Ancient Egyptian time travel romance PASSION’S CHOICE is now not only a standalone novel, it is also included in the Love Across Time box set – ten full novels by bestselling authors, right now on sale for 99 cents at Amazon! An unbelievable bargain you should go get immediately! PASSION’S CHOICE is the story of Elissa, an average young American woman on a tour in Egypt when she falls over the railing at Deir el Bahri, temple of the female pharaoh Hatshepsut. The only thing is, when she hits the ground the temple is under construction, and the general in charge of the project believes her to be a pleasure woman. (You can guess what that is, can’t you?) Before she knows what’s going on, Elissa finds herself in a dangerous masquerade at the pharaoh’s court, one that not only puts the life of the man she loves at risk, but the fate of Egypt – and perhaps the future – as well.pc-web-small

By contrast, my newest murder mystery release is about arrogant, wealthy, aged sleuth Flora Melkiot, who has been called the dark side of Miss Marple. In MURDER IN DEATH’S WAITING ROOM, Flora has been confined to a rehab facility by her painfully conventional daughter, an act that infuriates Flora, who says it was only a little traffic accident and she could manage perfectly well with a broken wrist in her own home. Then first one of the patients and then another are brutally murdered, and Flora once again finds herself in the position of solving the crimes. As always, Flora is convinced that she can do anything… and usually she not only can, she does. When drugs get added into the mix, what should be a place of healing comes perilously close to becoming a death trap. midwr-web-promo-small

See? Two completely different kinds of writing, genres, even characters, but just one of me. One of my longtime beta readers – who has read almost every word I’ve ever written – looked at me one day and asked how I did it. How did I manage two such different genres, two such different conventions, two such different worldviews and do both of them equally well. I thought for a minute, then gave her the only answer that was possible.

I don’t have a clue.

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10 Responses to Splits, Murders and Happy Endings

  1. skyecaitlin says:

    Janis, your books sound good; I have read many of the writers on this blog and have not been disappointed, and I am also searching for my own inspiration to continue writing.

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  2. pamelasthibodeaux says:

    Split personality…love it LOL!
    Your books sound very intriguing
    Good luck and God’s blessings
    PamT

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  3. marilynm says:

    Great post–and you really have a third personality–the one that’s not a writer!

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  4. Reblogged this on Writing Notes and commented:
    Susan

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  5. Of course, you can always combine personalities and write romantic mystery fiction. It’s a balancing act but it’s worked out well for my writing.

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  6. morganmandel says:

    I can relate, since I also have a split personality when it comes to writing! I write mysteries and also romantic comedies. To make things more confusing, I even wrote a non-fiction book about my dogs. My excuse is I get bored easily.

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    • skyecaitlin says:

      I think we all expose different personality traits in our writing projects, and that’s part of the art/craft of writing.

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  7. shalanna says:

    I’ve also told people I have a duality about me like Janus . . . or maybe that two-headed guy from “Hitchhiker’s Guide,” Zaphod Beeblebrox. I write mystery/suspense with a dark side as Denise Weeks and YA fantasy/adventure with the occasional dark thread but mostly an optimistic outlook as Shalanna Collins. My darker work does have hope, though–there’s always someone with hope and/or a light at the end of the tunnel that may or may not be a train. LOL!
    I would say that readers should be careful before attributing any of the traits in the books’ characters to the author. Often characters are nothing at all like us. I have conservative characters, liberal characters, religious characters, skeptics, mystics, clueless ones, loonies, and everything. One might say that some of these express aspects of my own mind, but a lot of the time they are based on completely different forms such as the archetypes (the hermit, the empress, the trickster, the mentor) or are composites of people I know. It’s like being a playwright who also gets to play all the characters and create their business and tics as well as their inner lives. Kind of fun . . . kind of a power trip! But I’ve had people who said I had an agenda to slam piano teachers in general because I told them I was writing about a young girl whose male piano teacher is inappropriate with her (he never actually has sexual contact as such, but he plays her like a fiddle and makes her messed up with his inappropriate touch and speech) . . . they totally glommed onto the idea that I was saying ALL piano teachers do this, and they were properly irate. I asked them if this NEVER happens (see the news item about the one here in Texas who was just charged with actual abuse), and they didn’t even hear me–they went on and on about how awful I am and they had me banned from their piano teaching/playing group. Out of that entire mailing list of 200+ teachers, ONE understood that I was NOT saying all piano teachers or even very many do this. My story is actually about a pianist whose stage mother is intent upon getting her into a conservatory at a young age, whereas the girl is not even sure piano is her total passion (though she IS good . . . she likes chemistry as well and would like to not have to practice so many hours a day.) The bad teacher just sets off the dynamic in the family and my heroine gets to speak her mind and make her own aims known (while getting people to realize that yes, she IS telling the truth.) So . . . don’t accuse authors of being bad people if they write about something you hate!

    And by the way, there is a “Susan May” who is not Janis Susan May. It became quite clear about two pages into the book!! That is all.

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  8. EARL STAGGS says:

    Susan, you are an absolute delight. I Iove your attitude and the way you do what you do. And I mean that for all of the different people you are..

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  9. Pingback: Lost at Sea | ladiesofmystery

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