Mystery Writers Forum

General Discussion and News => Chat => Topic started by: Jay Hartzler on November 21, 2006, 02:50:58 PM

Title: Dangerous Web Surfing Ahead
Post by: Jay Hartzler on November 21, 2006, 02:50:58 PM
My apologies to anyone who might be offended.  I expect to be smote for this topic.  :)

While doing a random web search on mysteries and writers during lunch, I came across the following blog entry:

In the tradition of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups (two great things that go great together), I had a great money-making idea for a morally liberal novelist:

Write a detective series where the protagonist is an adult film star.

We already have every variety of amateur detective, from mystery novelist to Elvis, so why not a porn star?

It's a natural. Take one mystery novel, add generous helpings of gratuitous sexual content, and start minting money. And think of the movie rights!

Wondering if this has been done already, I refined my web search and found an item not only about a MC involved in the adult film industry but whose author is one of the top European adult actresses.  Safe link below.

This makes me wonder if a mystery of this sort would fly in the U.S.  Again, I'm sorry for dragging this down into the gutter.
Title: Re: Dangerous Web Surfing Ahead
Post by: Lee Lofland on November 21, 2006, 03:38:36 PM
Coincidentally, I recently attended conference where I was one of the folks holding one-on-one consultations (police procedure/CSI questions). The consultations were held in a large banquet room. All the others in the room were either agents or editors.

A nice, grandmotherly-type author arrived for her appointment with me to discuss a few things about her WIP. I thought her book was really interesting. The protagonist was an elderly lady who had decided to become a prostitute to help supplement her income. She recruited some of her elderly friends to join the business and away they went. Of course, they soon discovered a murder in the retirement home where they "worked" and attempted to solve it. The book was cute - no sex talk whatsover.

After her discussion with me the author pitched it to several agents. To make a long story short, the concept was shot down - totally. One agent even made the comment that she was sickened by the idea. Another agent told me that the idea would never sell. They were all totally turned off by this book. I was shocked.

Makes me wonder how well a porn-based mystery would be received.
Title: Re: Dangerous Web Surfing Ahead
Post by: Ingrid on November 21, 2006, 05:44:31 PM
My thought is that a porn-based mystery would be sold as porn.  That stuff sells really well.

As for the lady author, the idea is a hoot.  It shouldn't have been shot down.  Written as a comic novel, it could be very successful.  Why shouldn't the folks in the retirement home (often lonely widowers and widows) have a bit of fun. I don't think much of the idea of turning it into a series though.

Title: Re: Dangerous Web Surfing Ahead
Post by: Lee Lofland on November 21, 2006, 07:20:38 PM
I'm like you, Ingrid. The book was very cute in a Janet Evanovich sort of way. I thought it would sell quite easily. The writing needed some spit and polish, but I've seen worse - everyday when I look at my own.  ;D
Title: Re: Dangerous Web Surfing Ahead
Post by: Susan August on November 21, 2006, 07:37:50 PM
Maybe she needed some agents with a better sense of humor.  I think this would be a hoot for all of us baby boomers.

Title: Re: Dangerous Web Surfing Ahead
Post by: Elena on November 21, 2006, 09:51:55 PM
What incredibly dull unimaginative agents - sounds like something I'd love to read.  Hope the woman keeps working on it and pitching it.

Title: Re: Dangerous Web Surfing Ahead
Post by: B L McAllister on November 22, 2006, 12:40:42 PM
...What incredibly dull unimaginative agents ...

Is it possible that at present dullness and lack of imagination are what makes an agent successful in the first place?

Title: Re: Dangerous Web Surfing Ahead
Post by: CathyJ on November 22, 2006, 12:57:15 PM
Sounds like a fun book to me, too. 

On a somewhat related note, there is a historical mystery series by Roberta Gellis featuring a madam as sleuth.

Title: Re: Dangerous Web Surfing Ahead
Post by: Brenda B. on November 24, 2006, 09:29:21 PM
I received flak on my book "Dead Birds Don't Sing" that opens with a scene between a man and a prostitute. The most explicit thing that happens is she licks his hand. The other is implied. My MC is a former prostitute, and in one books she dresses like one to go back and interview some of her old friends to try and get a lead on a serial killer. I once thought about using condoms as giveaways instead of bookmarkers or postcards. That idea was looked at askance by many.

I think the old lady idea is funny. If that's the way she wrote it rather than totally serious, I don't see why the agent(s) were offended. It's a sad commentary on life when people must resort to such things to pay medical bills, prescriptions and for retirment housing.
Title: Re: Dangerous Web Surfing Ahead
Post by: stevent on November 25, 2006, 08:44:57 AM
I think the porn star detective idea could sell, but which conventions would you have to attend as the writer?

A grandmother reduced to prostitution might also sell, (who doesn't love a tale where the elderly are forced into a soulcrushing life of crime by abject poverty?) but it'd have to be extra funny from page one. Frankly, the story might sell better if she went into prostitution by choice rather than to make ends meet.

Laura Lippman (who used to write erotica professionally) wrote a short story for a collection subtitled "geezer noir" which has an elderly lady seduced by thoughts of glory into becoming a porn star. What happens when the director tells her she can't have a raise? Read the story.
Title: Re: Dangerous Web Surfing Ahead
Post by: Elena on November 25, 2006, 10:39:17 AM
An acquaintance of mine is a grandmother and a prostitute and not a woman to feel sorry for.  She is a feisty fun loving woman who realized that just the income she would have after a lifetime of teaching elementary school wouldn't allow her much of a life, and definitely eliminate taking care of the stray dogs she loved to rescue. 

Putting together her options, which was done via committee of friends and daughter, she decided to become a massage therapist.  After getting into business she found there was further opportunity to increase her cash flow with prostitution.

She is quite open about being a prostitute among her friends, she isn't a bit abashed about talking about her creative non-invasive ways of providing her services, and it has helped her not only provide for her strays, but also to pick up some hefty, non-insurance covered medical bills for her grandson.

A light grandmother prostitute series (forinstance ala Donna Andrews) is a perfectly plausible idea.

Title: Re: Dangerous Web Surfing Ahead
Post by: Ingrid on November 25, 2006, 01:19:09 PM
Hmm!  I happen to know a grandmother massage therapist. I see her in the gym all the time.  The other day she startled me by pointing to a the TV screen:  "See those ice hockey players? I've done them all."
I confess that I'll always wonder about her now.

Title: Re: Dangerous Web Surfing Ahead
Post by: Kathleen Taylor on November 25, 2006, 02:22:16 PM
My guess is that it wasn't the prostitution issue that turned the agents off, it was the notion of grandmothers having sex (especially for pay) that did the trick (pun intended... ;D). Consensual sex is fine in books, but it almost always has to be sex between 2 young, attractive adults or people get squicked out.

Personally, I think squicking people out is a very good reason for writing that story, but I'm odd that way. And I'm also without a fiction publisher, so my advice should certainly be taken with a pinch of salt. I do remember some people doing the *ew ick* routine about my Tory Bauer having sex, since she was overweight. There are readers who just can't take anything less than physical perfection in their protagonists.

Title: Re: Dangerous Web Surfing Ahead
Post by: Ingrid on November 26, 2006, 10:34:05 AM
Hey, Kathi's back.  And lol on the pun.

I'm reading Luis Garcia-Rosa at the moment, a very successful Argentinian mystery writer, and have decided his appeal for American readers lies in the fact that he writes about aging cops, warm-hearted whores, and street children. The prostitutes regularly "look after" the lonely cop (or cops) out of love and without expecting to be paid.  Of course, the setting is in a foreign country where sexual mores may safely be assumed to be erratic.  And perhaps for male readers there is a nice fantasy going here.

Ingrid (who also doesn't meet mass expectations)
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