Sunday 7 August 2011

Defining Genres By Bedroom Scene and other nonsense

As I am not at home, but thought I would be able to post a proper post today and haven't been able to, here is a re-hash of a couple of old posts, following up on the genre debate.

First of all, how to define genre by bedroom scene:


There was a knock on the door of my hotel room. I knew who this would be. My heart started beating fast like a baby sparrow fluttering in my ribcage. I fluffed up my hair, touched up my lipstick, adjusted my heaving breasts and opened the door. Tarquin stood there, leaning against the door frame like a bronzed God. His Armani jacket was slung casually over his shoulder and an errant lock of hair formed a little kiss curl over his forehead. I wanted to reach out and tenderly push it back into place. He smiled at me - a smile which reached from his chiselled jaw right up to his smouldering eyes, softly caressing the contours of his exquisite cheekbones on the way up.

"Hey there gorgeous," he said leaning close, his hot breath warming mycheek. "I've got something for you."

My eyes travelled down to the straining crotch of his tailored trousers,where his throbbing manhood lurked. I trembled. "You'd better come in then." I said.


There was a knock at the door of my hotel room. I jumped out of bed and grabbed the bedside lamp. Who could this be at 3am? My nerves were still on edge from the threatening phone call I'd received earlier. The voice, slightly mechanical and completely without intonation, had said "Don't say I didn't warn you." The receiver had gently been replaced after a few seconds. I crept over to the door and looked out of the spyhole. The corridor was empty, the lights low; the whole hotel was sleeping. As my heart beat returned to normal, I realised I had been holding my breath.

I relaxed but tensed up again almost immediately. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the wardrobe door opening.


There was a knock at the door of my hotel room which woke me up from my dream. I felt half regretful and half relieved. I felt disloyal for dreaming about Inspector Danny Trevelyan when I should be concentrating on looking for my sister, who had mysteriously disappeared three days ago.

"Who's there?" I called out. There was no reply, just another knock. I got out of bed and walked to the door. With my hand on the doorknob I glanced out of the spyhole. There was no one there. As I turned away, puzzled, I saw the wardrobe door opening. I let out a squeak of fear and stayed rooted to the spot as a tall, handsome man stepped out of the wardrobe.

"Danny? What are you doing in the wardrobe?"

His eyes twinkled. "I came to tell you something about your sister and saw something mysterious in the wardrobe. "He shrugged. "I got locked in and didn't want to wake you up." I wasn't sure that I believed him. Was he all that he seemed? Was he even really a police inspector? But there was undeniably an element of sexual tension between us that troubled me more than anything. Well,except the mysterious disappearance of what's-her-name of course.


The explosion knocked the bedroom door off its hinges. Butch threw himself down by the side of the bed, grabbing his Uzi as he flew over the night table. The two men in balaclavas sprayed bullets into the room before turning and running off down the corridor. Butch jumped up, ran to the window and looked out. A black SUV with tinted windows was just pulling away in the courtyard below his hotel room. He could catch them.

Not stopping to open the window he jumped through, landing on the balcomy below. He turned to the shocked white face of the girl who'd been sitting on her balcony reading the morning paper. "Sorry lady, criminals to catch. I'll be back." He kissed her hard, grabbed the drainpipe and effortlessly slid to the ground. He ran towards his souped up chevy with 40 million horsepower under the hood and go faster stripes along the side. The idea of a car chase ending in a spectacular crash and the SUV bursting into flames excited him.


I quietly got out of bed, leaving Sheriff Pete Mallory gently snoring.I needed to get a head start on the day, what with having to make fresh bread, pack the childrens' lunches, finish the quilt I was handsewing for the Women's Guild Summer Fete, and take Andrew to the school concert and Butthead to the vet. Or was it the other way round? Since the murder of my neighbour Philip Stover I had been at sixes and sevens and hadn't been able to concentrate on anything other than trying to solve the crime, despite Pete Mallory's insistence that I keep my pert little nose out of business that didn't concern me.

I shook him awake. "Sheriff Mallory, do you have the key to Philip Stover's house? There might be a vital clue there that you missed. And, by the way, you need to get up and leave before the children wake up. I'm not supposed to have a love life since my husband ran off with his secretary 8 years ago."

He groaned. "Not that it's any of your business, but the key's in the front left pocket of my trousers. You really MUST learn to keep your pert little nose out of business that doesn't concern you. Now, for goodness sake come back to bed and give me a kiss. It's 3am, the children won't get up for 4 hours. And while we're on the subject - what the hell's wrong with sliced bread from the supermarket, let the children pack their own damn lunches - there's something weird about 4 30-somethings who all still live at home anyway. And another thing, the damn quilt's already bigger than Madison Square Garden and you've only been sewing it for 2 weeks; Andrew can take himself to the school concert - he's the headmaster for god's sake, and I can never remember - is Butthead the dog or one of the children? And for goodness sake, stop calling me Sheriff Mallory - we've been seeing each other for 6 years and you've stuck your nose into 12 murders over that time."


I reached over the mysterious dame in my bed, opened the drawer of the bedside cabinet and pulled out a half bottle of whisky. I took a slug and savoured the welcome burn in my throat as it went down. I lit a cigarette, screwing up my eyes against the smoke as it curled into the air. The Venetian blinds slanted a weak light into the room, leaving a pattern of gray stripes on the rumpled bedsheets. I looked at the broad as she lay spreadeagled on the bed. "Of all the beds in all the world,"I muttered "Why did you have to walk into mine?" She was a strawberry blonde and I knew she was trouble from the moment she'd stepped into my office the afternoon before. Her jailbird boyfriend had gone on the lam but she thought he'd been fingered by The Duke's mob of gorillas. I didn't have the heart to tell her that I'd seen her sleazeball boyfriend getting on a Greyhound bus to Chattanooga, a petite brunette hanging from his muscular arm like....well, like something really delicate that hangs from something really ugly. It's early, I've got a hangover - similes and metaphors don't come easy until later in the day. Give me a break.

So anyway, I fed her some brandy, along with some line about how a cute tomato like her could always find another sucker to take care of her and here she was - in bed with that next sucker. Her lips had lost the layers of red lipstick and looked beestung and bruised, false eyelashes had given up the battle during last night's exertions and one of them now lay gently on her cheek like a depressed spider, and she smelled of expensive whisky and cheap perfume. God, she was gorgeous.


The phone rang. "Shit." Inspector Alan Jeffries woke with a start and reached out over his wife's prone body for the phone. He knocked the alarm clock off the cabinet in his haste and his bleary eyes caught sight of the luminous dial. 3am. "Shit," he said again. There could only be one reason for the phone ringing at 3am.

"Yeah?" he said into the receiver, rubbing his hand through his hair and over his eyes, trying to force himself awake. He belched - the sour beery taste made him wish he'd just come straight home last night rather than going out for a pint with the lads yet again.

"Guv? Watters here. You'd better come down to the Docks. We've got another murder."

Jeffries' wife stirred. "Alan? It's no good - I hate being a policeman's wife. I want a divorce."


Agatha Parple opened her bedroom door with a sigh of relief. She was so glad it was 9pm and she could turn in with a nice cup of hot cocoa. This had been a hectic day - from the moment she'd walked into the dining room at breakfast and seen Colonel Arbuthnot face down in the kippers with a south American blow dart in the back of his neck, until the moment she'd assembled the household in the library and Revealed that the murderer was young Fotheringham, who reminded her so much of the butcher's son, she hadn't stopped once all day. The sheets of her bed had been turned down by Betty, the slightly common but good hearted maid with the unfortunate habit of dropping her aitches. Agatha reached down and unfolded her nightdress from where it lay warming on the hot water bottle Lady Alexander thoughtfully provided for all her guests. Ah, surely the greatest bedtime experience anyone could ever have - the feel of toasty brushed cotton against one's skin.


William stirred as I opened the bedroom door and the scent of toast and jam wafted towards him. He opened his eyes. "I thought you'd be hungry after trying to solve the murders,." I said, "so I went downstairs and rustled up a treat for you." I put the tray in front of him. As he ate, I went through the recipe in my head, to make sure I'd cooked it correctly:

Toast and Jam: Take two slices of bread
Put bread in toaster
Switch toaster on and cook until a sort of brownish colour (pale brown rather than dark brown - definitely not black)

Handy hint - when the smoke alarm goes off, your toast is done
Remove from toaster and spread with butter (or vegetable spread of your choice)
Ladle a generous helping of jam over the top
Serve while still warm


Hector Lector opened the bedroom door. His victim was spreadeagled on the bed, her legs and arm tied to the bedposts. Hector made sure he had covered all his serial killer trademarks. His victim was a blue eyed woman with one arm and he had drowned her in a vat of hot chocolate while narrating The Rhyme of The Ancient Mariner. He had then tied her to the bed and had drawn a picture of a squirrel on the wall and scattered rose petals around the bedroom floor.

For a time the pounding in his head had subsided. He would be able to forget for a while that he had been burned by a scalding mug of hot chocolate as a baby, force-fed him by his mother Rose, a blue-eyed ex Womens Royal Navy sailor who lost an arm in a bizarre accident involving a rabid squirrel.

Hector sighed happily and left the bedroom.


Bob took off his boxer shorts and turned round, gazingly lovingly at his new love. Lumarella gasped in shock and drew her little pointy head back. "By Jupiter, what's that?" she cried. "On MY planet that looks like the tool we use to stir our Grogon Juice."


Legolas got out of bed in a huff. "What do you mean 'It's small'?" he said. "Of COURSE it's bloody small - I'm an elf."

Next - from noir to cosy in...errrrr...12 easy stages:

Noir fiction has our protagonist spiralling down into the pit of despair, thrown there by a mocking Fate, who then stands at the edge of the pit shovelling dirt onto the head of the protagonist until he is half-buried. Fate then throws the shovel down into the pit and the hapless protag reaches out for that glimmer of hope, only for it to whack him on the head and kill him. Noir for me ends with the characters going to prison/becoming alcoholics/ betraying each other and their own morals (if they had any to start with) - mostly a one book deal (after all, who'd want to put the poor sucker through all that again?)

Add a wisecracking sidekick, a couple of shoot-outs and the love of a good woman for our PI who decides he's going to kick the booze, and you have a hardboiled tale.

Add a nasty serial killer, a morgue, some sharp knives and a know-it-all woman with a degree in pathology, who just happens to be a cordon-bleu chef and you have a forensic thriller.

Give your serial killer a quirk and have him choose victims who are blue-eyed women with one arm who he drowns in a vat of hot chocolate while narrating The Rime of The Ancient Mariner. He then ties her to the bed and draws a picture of a squirrel on the wall and scatters rose petals around the bedroom floor, because he was burned by a scalding mug of hot chocolate when he was a baby, force-fed to him by his mother Rose, a Women's Royal Navy Sailor, who lost an arm in a bizarre accident involving a rabid squirrel. Add in a few italicised passages from the viewpoint of the killer and you have a psychological thriller.

Include quotes from an obscure Turkish poet left at the scene of the crime (the poem, not the poet), have the killer be a master chess-player and chuck in a discourse on philosophy every six pages, and you have a literary mystery.

Throw a lawyer into the mix who uses his courtroom skills to unveil the bad guy, despite the fact that his extra-curricular investigations puts his own life in danger, and you have a legal thriller.

Give your lawyer an acquaintance who's a cop with a passion for justice at the expense of his home life, who's been divorced six times, is driven by the job and who relaxes with a glass of beer and some jazz music on the stereo at the end of a case and you have the loner cop book.

Give him some mates, a few jokes, a couple of attractive female colleagues, an annoying senior officer, too much paperwork and some inter-departmental squabbling and you have a police procedural.

Introduce your newly optimistic and upbeat policeman to a nice widow with a penchant for sticking her nose in where it's not wanted, and who always seems to be tripping over dead bodies and you've got an amateur-sleuth mystery.

Give Ms Nosy a clever, mystery-solving iguana as a pet, a hobby knitting bird tables out of left-over wool, then throw in a recipe every couple of chapters and you have a cosy.

Make the iguana talk, and give him the starring role, or give the heroine the ghost of a dead relative to contend with and you have a paranormal crossover mystery.

Transport the whole shooting match back to 1665 and dress them in pantaloons and bustles and have them declaim "Gadzooks" and "Oddsbodkins" every now and again and you have a historical mystery. Well, you might have to lose the iguana...


  1. Donna - Oh, this is absolutely priceless! Thank you :-)!

  2. Donna, this is excellent! Actually laughing out loud here, you certainly grasp all concepts and sub-genres soooo well! And have a GREAT sense of humour to go with it! You could actually teach a few, or more, writers a class about how to do what they try to do! :-) Truly funny Sunday for me, thank you!


  3. A truly inspired post, Donna. Thanks for ending my weekend with such a laugh.

  4. Absolutely hilarious! Thank you for cheering up my Monday (I esp like the serial killer but they are all brilliant!).

  5. Bloody brilliant, our Donna! Thanks for the chuckles on a dreary Monday morning.

  6. Thanks Donna. They are all wonderful, but the amateur sleuth is my favourite. After a very stressful weekend your superb post has made us all laugh.

  7. Aw - thanks all - so glad it made you laugh!

  8. Ha - coffee went up my nose with this one Donna.


  9. Thanks Luca - glad you enjoyed it!