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Why Murders of Substance is Changing to Woodhead & Becker

Or How Not to Write a Zombie Romance

Previously, I announced a change to the Murders of Substance series to The Woodhead & Becker Mysteries, as well as a change of the book titles to The Winterstone Murder and The Bridegroom Murder.

I’ve written about the origin of the series title, book names, themes, characters, and covers of the Murders of Substance and how they were influenced by the 1987 album Substance from the British post-punk band New Order. This post will discuss why I’m making the change.

If you’re scratching your head wondering who New Order is, or if you had to search online and you vaguely remember a couple of their hits, you’re not alone—very few of my readers knew about New Order, and even those who were familiar with some of the songs didn’t make the connection. As much as New Order influenced me personally, the references were obviously too obscure! That’s the main reason I’m changing: the series title and book names aren’t connecting with either Fenway Stevenson fans or new readers.

Another reason: even though I thought those New Order song titles would make good murder mystery titles, it turns out I was wrong. Songs like “Temptation” and “Perfect Kiss” would be more at home as romantic suspense novels, not hardboiled mysteries. “Everything’s Gone Green” is much more what you’d expect from a zombie apocalypse book!

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, all of the murder mystery series I’ve read and loved follow the naming convention of “The Sleuth’s-Name Mysteries.” There’s no series I know in the mystery genre that is called “Murders of XYZ.” Sherlock Holmes, Hercule Poirot, Stephanie Plum… from the early days of the whodunit genre, that’s been the standard—with almost no one deviating from that.

In short, people who might like mysteries like Ceremony and Everything’s Gone Green were passing right by because they didn’t think they were mysteries. That had to change.

In the next post: the process of creating a new series identity.