I’m Katy Leen and I write Blanc Mysteries.
We’ve all heard of the “Noir Mystery”—a term attributed to a French film critic who in 1946 used Noir to describe the slew of dark, moody, and downbeat suspense stories that explored themes that included moral ambiguity, rampant distrust, and costly betrayal. The heroes were usually male, often hard-boiled detectives, with gruff exteriors and conflicted interiors. And their female counterparts were Femmes Fatales who lured them in with their lusty ways.
But what do we call light, fun, upbeat mysteries that explore themes of moral justice, blind faith, and loyal determination with soft-boiled heroines who have curvy exteriors and steadfast interiors—and male counterparts who lure them in with their lustful ways?
Enter the “Blanc Mystery.”
I coined the “Blanc Mystery” because, hey why not? It’s the perfect term for my series featuring Lora Weaver. Lora is forever searching for the light in the darkness and refuses to believe there isn’t a bright side to everything in life. Sometimes she has to sidestep a few puddles to find it, but she does. Eventually.
So welcome to the series. While Noir may be classic, Blanc definitely has more fun;)
I wrote my first series when I was around six or seven years old. It starred a vivacious woman in her early twenties striking out on her own with a college degree under one arm and a dog under the other. Figuratively speaking, that is. I know because I also illustrated the stories. Having limited vocabulary and even more limited spelling ability, I relied on my images to convey much of the stories. Which was unfortunate because I couldn’t draw well. And the only way I felt I could competently draw the female human form was in profile with her hair in a bun. In my mind’s eye, the drawing of my main character looked like a young Brigitte Bardot with her hair in a tousled upsweep. In reality, she more closely resembled Miss Grundy from the Archie comics.
My early readers, my older brother and sister, were very supportive of my efforts. They found the stories entertaining and would sometimes read them aloud chuckling to themselves. As a writer, I was pleased. Until one day I realized they were often laughing more at the pictures than at the humour I’d weaved into the stories. If my illustrations had better complemented the stories this would have been okay, but they didn’t. Instead, they distracted the readers with limiting and inaccurate visuals. That’s when I learned my first important lesson in storytelling: less is more.
This lesson not only served me well in writing but in life, where knowing which details to focus on and which ones are mere distractions is just as much of an art. Although, as a wife and mom, there are days when I also count it as a skill:)