Is Combining Genres Overachieving?
Let me start by saying I’ve always been an overachiever. My accomplishments include becoming one of the first woman partners at a major international law firm and one of the first female general counsels at a Fortune 500 company.
When I left legal practice to study creative writing, I could have aimed for a cozy mystery or a romance. But, no, my goal was to write a novel that combined genres. Even worse, I wanted to educate readers.
The tenacity that enabled me to achieve goals in my legal career remains with me. (Some call it stubbornness.) My determination to publish a novel that both entertains and educates lead to ten years of drafting, rejections and a decision to self-publish. The resulting book is titled Terminal Ambition, A Maggie Mahoney Novel.
Terminal Ambition is a legal thriller. Reviewers frequently characterize it as a “page turner,” “fast-paced” and “engrossing.” I can sigh with relief that I’ve met my goal of entertainment. Thirty-four reviews on Amazon with a rating of 4.7 stars prove it.
To my delight, none of the viewers objected to the education that mingled with the thrills. Maggie Mahoney, the protagonist of Terminal Ambition, fights sexual harassment and discrimination in her Wall Street law firm. Each of her battles illustrates different manifestations of these problems and provides an opportunity to educate readers. Her crusade gripped readers because her antagonists are smart and highly motivated. The ambition of the firm chairman to be named U.S. Attorney General is threatened by her disclosures. His second-in-command is unprincipled and one of the firm’s worst sexual culprits.
In my compulsive, over–achieving way, I added an appendix to Terminal Ambition in the form of a legal memo from the protagonist that spells out the legal prohibitions against sexual harassment and discrimination. It also details 12 escalating steps that a victim of harassment can take in response.
My insistence on the appendix proved to be a deal-killer for some agents. Originally, I had been inspired to use this device by Michael Crichton who included appendices setting forth the hard science behind a few of his thrillers. I refused to eliminate the appendix because my fundamental goal had been education; a legal thriller was my chosen genre because many enjoy it. I could spread my message further in a popular book. If I sound like an evangelist, it’s become I am when it comes to women’s rights.
The twists and turns of Terminal Ambition provides more than an education. They also lead readers to a moral question. When does ambition become toxic? It’s a question I wish I had asked myself years ago, but that’s a story for my memoir!
ABOUT KATE McGUINNESS
After leaving the corporate world, Kate was determined to master writing and riding, pastimes that often led to confusion in the telling. Her studies of creative writing proved to be more successful than her horseback adventures which included a broken leg! However, her love of horses remains.
Kate also took the opportunity to be more fully involved with her son’s life – too involved, he would say. She enjoyed watching scores of soccer games and cheering his team on to a divisional state championship. All grown up now, her son lives in Eastern Europe and teaches English as a second language.
In addition to Terminal Ambition, Kate writes on women’s issues for a number of online sites. Her essays have appeared in Role/Reboot, Jezebel, Fem2pt0, Women’s Media Center and Ms. JD. You can follow her on Twitter @womnsrightswrtr.
Kate lives in a utopian community in the Midwest with her husband, dogs and innumerable squirrels.
To learn more about Kate, visit her website: www.womensrightswriter.com
You can also find out more about Terminal Ambition at http://www.terminal-ambition.com