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Guest Blogger – Heidi Noroozy

February 17, 2010

Our guest blogger this week is novelist Heidi Noroozy. I met Heidi through Sisters in Crime last year, when we both discovered we write about main characters straddling two cultures. I was more than a little intrigued when I found out that her novels feature an Iranian private investigator who solves crimes both in the U.S. and in Iran. Equally fascinating is Heidi’s background. She’s an American who travels regularly to Iran, is fluent in Farsi, and writes about a culture few of us have an opportunity to see close up. Heidi is contributing to this week’s topic on writing and marketing cross-genre novels.

Thanks, Supriya, for inviting me to blog with you today. And on one of my favorite topics, too.

The first time I realized my novel was cross-genre was the day I started querying agents and had to come up with that important little phrase: my completed 90,000-word…what? Couldn’t I just call it a novel and be done with it? Nope. I had to find a way to set it aside from the hundreds of other fiction queries agents receive every week. I had written a crime story. That was a start. But there are whole shelves of crime novels in every bookstore – even entire bookstores devoted to the genre. So I thought some more. My book featured a female private investigator. So far, so good. The problem was, without even taxing my brain, I could think of at least ten other authors who were writing series featuring female private investigators. I dug deeper. She’s Iranian. Born in Tehran, raised in California – a person of two cultures. Bingo. I had it: a multicultural P.I. novel. A cross-genre story.

It may be that some authors set out to write cross-genre and combine various interests to come up with something new and different. Mysteries populated with supernatural beings (Charlaine Harris), police procedurals set in the future (J.D. Robb), a medieval knight-turned-private investigator (Jeri Westerson). For me it started with a challenge.

I’d been hanging with Iranians for years. I’d been to Iran, spoke the language, could even cook a decent pot of saffron-scented rice without burning the tadiq – the crispy bits on the bottom of the pot. But everywhere I looked in the media, I saw images of Iran that didn’t fit with what I knew. On TV there were women enveloped in black chadors, crowds raising fists and yelling “Death to America”, those propaganda murals painted on the walls of the former U.S. Embassy that seem to be mandatory footage for every CNN newscast on Iran. In the movies, the Iranians were the terrorists who got blown up by the good guys in the end.

Where were the funny, teasing people who were always cracking me up? The bottle-blonds with pouty red lips and cats-eye mascara jobs? The bossy matrons who lay down the law in the home and out-bargain the savviest merchant at the bazaar? The big, noisy family gatherings with enough food to feed a small nation? The taxi drivers who can recite Rumi poems while performing death-defying maneuvers in Tehran’s killer traffic? I put them all in my books. And added a mystery/suspense plot.

My entire series is cross-genre in a way. The first book is a straight whodunit-type mystery. The second suspense, with the murderer revealed up front and a sleuth determined to make him pay for his crime. The third? Well, I haven’t written it yet, so that’s anybody’s guess.  It definitely won’t have a terrorist in it. That’s been done to death.

Thanks so much for blogging with us today, Heidi! Your novel sounds incredible and exactly like something I’d pick up in the store.

12 Comments leave one →
  1. February 17, 2010 8:53 am

    Excellent post! Great to have you here today, Heidi. Your book sounds terrific and the colorful bits you included about the culture at the end were intriguing. I wish you the best in finding a publisher because I look forward to buying it!

    • Heidi Noroozy permalink
      February 17, 2010 10:56 am

      Thanks, CJ! It’s an honor to be blogging with all you fine writers! The cultural bits are the parts that come easiest to me when writing these books. They are so much fun to write!

  2. February 17, 2010 9:33 am

    Welcome Heidi!! With the continued paranoia about the so-called threatening culture du jour, I’d love to know more about how agents and publishers are receiving your novel?

    • Heidi Noroozy permalink
      February 17, 2010 11:14 am

      Thanks, WJ! I have an agent who is showing the first book around NY. The response I get from editors is that they like the Iranian cultural aspects quite a lot. I think people enjoy getting an inside peak into this culture that is so mysterious to many Westerners.

  3. February 17, 2010 3:37 pm

    I’ve read Heidi’s first novel and you’re all in for a treat! She combines a juicy mystery with lots of interesting cultural and historical references, making it an entertaining read that you’ll learn from too. Heidi, keep us posted on your progress and good luck!

  4. Heidi Noroozy permalink
    February 17, 2010 9:59 pm

    Aw, shucks, Supriya. You make me sound so good! Thanks.

  5. February 18, 2010 10:59 am

    Heidi, your novel sounds terrific – just the sort of thing to help us understand how to bridge the gap that is splitting the world right now + an enjoyable read. Good luck with it!

  6. Heidi Noroozy permalink
    February 18, 2010 6:57 pm

    Thank you Sandra! I’m having a lot of fun writing the books and hope they will find an audience once they’re published.

  7. February 19, 2010 11:33 am

    Heidi, I’m curious whether you’ve received feedback from agents or editors that they couldn’t get into the novel because Iranians are “the enemy.”

    • Heidi Noroozy permalink
      February 19, 2010 4:52 pm

      Suzanne, I never heard that from either agents or editors. If anyone felt that way, they kept their thoughts to themselves. (Maybe they were the ones sending me those “not for us” rejections.) The feedback I’ve gotten has been generally very positive on the Iranian aspects of my book.


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