Monday, January 25, 2010

Hard Boiled, Soft Boiled, or Something In Between

© Misa Ramirez 2010 all rights reserved

Thank so much to Marta, and the rest of the gang at Murder by 4, for having me guest with them today. It’s an honor to be here and to be able to talk about my new release, HASTA LA VISTA, LOLA!

When I first decided to write a mystery, I had no idea there were so many actual categories. In fact, I wrote my first book, LIVING THE VIDA LOLA, sold it to Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Minotaur, and was well into book two HASTA LA VISTA, LOLA!, which comes out Feb. 2nd, before I realized there were such classifications. And once I looked into the mystery categories, I struggled with trying to figure out just where Lola Cruz Mysteries fit.

A cozy mystery is chock full of secrets, but it’s not action-oriented. There’s usually an accidental or amateur sleuth, and it takes place in a small town. This does not fit the bill for Lola Cruz Mysteries which take place in Sacramento and has plenty of action, and has a more zany cast of characters than a typical cozy.

But then neither does hard-boiled define Lola Cruz Mysteries. Lola is not a toughened, hardened detective, nor is the story dark. She is not Sam Spade, or Kinsey Millhone. She’s got a definite feminine side, is sassy and sexy, and doesn’t have a drinking problem (though she certainly enjoys a good margarita: recipe to be found on my web site!! ). Sure, she’s a black belt in kung fu and has an edge, but she also loves yoga and salsa dancing. No, hard-boiled she’s not.

There are numerous police-procedurals out there, but LIVING THE VIDA LOLA and HASTA LA VISTA, LOLA! are not among them. This is not Law and Order, and though Lola plays by the rules, the rules don’t reign supreme.

Lola Cruz is not an amateur detective, either. She’s a fledgling detective, fresh off an internship (required before a PI license can be issued in the state of California), and she follows her intuition just as much as she follows clues (though each book will show an increase in her detecting abilities), but she gets paid to detect and solve crimes.

What I came to realize is that Lola Cruz Mysteries defy definition. I guess they are what you’d call Soft-Boiled, with romantic elements, but really, they don’t fit neatly into a box. There are secrets and puzzles and crimes in the stories, and it’s up to Lola (with a little help from her friends) to solve the cases. She struggles with balancing her drive and ambition with the cultural expectations of her very traditional Mexican family. She wants love and a family, but not at the expense of her dreams.

I like to say that Lola Cruz is my alter-ego if I were a sexy, sassy, Latina detective. I love the ‘ripped from the headlines’ and Lola-fied mysteries, but really, I love Lola and her family. I’m okay that she doesn’t fit into a category; she’s in a class by herself, and she’s special.

Here’s my question for you: How do you like your mysteries? What is your all time favorite?

Thanks again Murder by 4!

Visit Misa and learn more about Lola Cruz Mysteries at, Chase Heroes with her at, and dish mysteries with her at

About the author

Misa Ramirez is the author of the Lola Cruz mystery series: LIVING THE VIDA LOLA (January ’09) and HASTA LA VISTA, LOLA! (2010) from St. Martin’s Minotaur. A former middle and high school teacher, and current CEO and CFO for La Familia Ramirez, this blonde-haired, green-eyed, proud to be Latina-by-Marriage girl loves following Lola on her many adventures. Whether it’s contemplating belly button piercings or visiting nudist resorts, she’s always up for the challenge. Misa is hard at work on a new women’s fiction novel, has developed a middle grade series, is published in Woman’s World Magazine and Romance Writers Report, and has a children’s book published.

You can follow Misa on her tour at the following sites:

Mon Jan 18 BronzeWord Latino Authors
Tues Jan 19 Book-Lover Carol
Wed Jan 20 Latino Book Examiner
Thur Jan 21 Julia Amante
Mon Jan 25 Murder By 4
Tues Jan 26 Book Journey
Wed Jan 27 Mama Latina Tips
Thur Jan 28 Caridad Piñeiro
Fri Jan 29 Literary Feline


Vergil said...

Misa, I enjoyed reading "Hard Boiled, Soft Boiled...".
You have a smooth, engaging style, clear, economical, and very much "to the point." I'll look for your books.

Bob Sutherland

Kim Smith said...

Oh I so feel you! I have just recently began terming my mysteries as "bubblegum" mysteries because it won't fit any where else. Good to have you here Misa!

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Welcome, Misa! How lovely for you (and Lola!) to visit us today.

I've been through the same agonies for years, trying to categorize my mysteries. They've been called literary mysteries, but that's not really a perfect fit, because there are lots of chase scenes and "immediate" characters. I ended up calling them "country" mysteries because they take place in the rolling hillsides of the Genesee Valley, and even though there are "cozy-ish" scenes indoors where Gus cooks a stew with his grandson and plenty of family meals around the trestle table... many of the scenes are outdoors, running through the woods, chasing bad guys on a frozen lake, or searching for a lost dog in a giant field of sunflowers while a guy in a motorcycle tries to run my characters down... LOL.

My absolute all time favorites are these folks: Laurie King, who writes the new (and astoundingly wonderful) Sherlock Holmes series; John D. MadConald's Travis McGee series; all of Dick Francis's books; Dean Koontz Odd Thomas series; Peter Mayle's Provence books; Tony Hillerman's series; and of course the books by my cohosts here at MB4: SW Vaughn, Marta Stephens, and Kim Smith! I'm not sure there's ANY genre that fits this list, but in general, if it's a well written mystery, and I get to "keep" the characters throughout the series - I'm hooked!

Thanks again for joining us today. I thoroughly enjoyed your piece. ;o)

Marta Stephens said...

Here are a few more types of mysteries:


Amateur Sleuth

Professional Sleuth

Police Procedural



Romantic Suspense


Mixed Genre (futuristic)

Private Eye




Best of luck on the tour, Misa.

Misa said...

It's great to be here, gang! Mystery writers stick together. =) I'm glad to know I'm not alone in struggling with just how to categorize my mystery series. I get why categories are helpful, but they can be stumbling blocks, to be sure. I love the bubble gum and country mysteries you came up with Kim and Aaron

Misa said...

Thank you, Bob!

s.w. vaughn said...

Ah, the endless battle to tag books with a genre cubbyhole. :-) Such fun, ain't it? Lola sounds like a blast, Misa - no matter what genre she's supposed to be. LOL

Enjoy your tour, and thanks for stopping in here!

Amanda Villagómez said...

I'm glad that you weren't thinking of categories of mystery when you wrote the book. It turned out perfect, and trying to categorize it would have stifled Lola!

I think my favorite type of mystery are those that also involve a little bit of romance.