From the Editor

AHM_editor_Linda_Landrigan

Welcome to Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine!

AHMM specializes in publishing stories of mystery and suspense — everything from whodunits to howdunits, procedurals to puzzles, from cozy to noir. But for this magazine’s current editor, great stories of any genre are rooted in characters — well-drawn, individual, and credibly motivated. Interesting characters responding to the extraordinary pressures of crime — this is what I like to read and to publish, and I hope you like that too.

— Linda Landrigan

 

About the Editor

Linda Landrigan has had a longtime love affair with mystery. Earning her undergraduate degree from New College in Florida and her Master's degree from Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, Linda held a variety of jobs before landing a position as associate editor of Hitchcock under the magazine's previous editor, Cathleen Jordan, with whom she had the privilege of working for five years. Assuming the mantle of editor-in-chief in 2002, Linda has also edited the commemorative anthology Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine Presents Fifty Years of Crime and Suspense (2006) and the digital anthology Alfred Hitchcock's Mystery Magazine Presents Thirteen Tales of New American Gothic (2012), and has found time to be active on the board of the New York City Chapter of the Women's National Book Association. In 2008, Linda and her "partner in crime," Janet Hutchings – editor of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine – were presented with the Poirot Award from Malice Domestic for their contributions to the mystery genre.

The Editor Deposes

On Subgenres by Linda Landrigan

People sometimes ask what subgenre of mystery stories AHMM publishes, and in a field rife with subgenres, it’s an understandable question. (If you’re curious, the answer is: all kinds.)

But in the course of such discussions, I’ve learned that people can get rather worked up about subgenre definitions and boundaries. I’m still surprised when I’m talking with readers who think that such definitions are fixed and immutable, as if decided and promulgated by some Genre Regulatory Commission (the GRC?). I’m even more surprised when I encounter authors who seem to think that genres and subgenres are some nefarious scheme dreamed up by publishers to somehow foreclose certain opportunities for their books. Their work doesn’t “fit” into a single subgenre, they say. Fair enough.

The fact is, these subgenre definitions have always been fluid, and in the past ten years, say, we’ve seen a lot of blurring of the boundaries in some popular books and series. That’s healthy. When we stick too closely to familiar conventions, we risk getting stories that are tired and stale.

So why do genres and subgenres exist?

As far as I can see, the notion of genre arises from one of our most basic impulses as readers: to give and receive recommendations for new books. But as soon as you say, “I really enjoyed Book X and I want to read more like it,” the question arises: which characteristics make another book “like” Book X? So we start to analyze and taxonomize and categorize and pretty soon we arrive at a cluster of characteristics that consistently pleases us and that some books more or less seem to share. A name provides a convenient shorthand for that cluster, and the most useful names become widely used.

A subgenre label is just a tool that publishers and booksellers and librarians use to try to help books find the readers that will enjoy them, and that readers use to seek and make recommendations from among a surfeit of choices. Mystery subgenres are fluid, imprecise, and subject to debate, but since we none of us have the time to read everything that’s published, they’re a place to start.

You can email Linda Landrigan at alfredhitchcockmm@dellmagazines.com.

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