Recently, I’ve made a habit of combing through Amazon’s book categories, in an effort to finesse my marketing efforts. That’s how I noticed the category, women’s psychological fiction. I’d heard of the psychological thrillers, and of course, of women’s fiction.
But women’s psychological fiction? Tell me more.
I did a bit of research, and this is what I found:
Women’s psychological fiction is a genre of literature that explores the complexities of the female mind, often through a suspenseful or mysterious plot. It has become increasingly popular in recent years, after the popularity of novels like In a Dark, Dark Wood, Girl on the Train and Gone Girl.
Does a women’s psychological fiction novel have to be a thriller?
I was curious, because my new novel, Beautiful Little Furies (to be released 12/21/23 by Black Rose Writing) borders on being a thriller, but doesn’t quite get there. But from what I found, it DOES qualify as women’s psychological fiction.
Women’s psychological fiction often features complex female characters, who face a variety of personal and professional challenges. These characters often grapple with issues such as identity, body image, relationships, and trauma. By delving into these issues, women’s psychological fiction helps readers gain insight into the realities of being a woman in today’s society.
One of the defining elements of women’s psychological fiction is the emphasis on character development. These stories typically feature protagonists who are in the process of figuring out who they are, and how to make their way in the world. As the story progresses, readers get to watch as the characters confront their fears, make difficult decisions, and grow into the people they are meant to be.
So, how does that differ from regular ol’ women’s fiction/drama?
Well, in addition to character development, women’s psychological fiction often includes elements of mystery and suspense. These stories often have an element of mystery, as the protagonist tries to uncover the truth behind a particular event or person. This can be anything from a missing person case to a crime, and the protagonist must use her wits and determination to get to the bottom of it.
Furthermore, many women’s psychological fiction stories explore themes of trauma. These stories often feature characters who have experienced some kind of traumatic event in their past, and they are now dealing with the consequences of that trauma. By exploring the effects of trauma on these characters, these stories offer insight into the long-term effects of trauma and how it can shape our lives.
Okay. Character development? Check. Mystery/suspense? Check. (Even though it doesn’t quite rise to the level of a thriller.) Trauma? Check.
Beautiful Little Furies qualifies, for sure.
Here’s my working pitch, which is subject to change:
Hazel Ford is still recovering from the devastating car accident that she was in two months ago. She can’t quite grasp that her fiancé Vance, who’d been behind the wheel, abandoned her at the hospital, and now he won’t respond to any of her calls, texts, or emails. Hazel is determined to piece the events of that awful night back together and figure out what really happened. Yet, returning to the high school where both she and Vance taught, and where they met and fell in love, only exacerbates her distress. She soon realizes Vance was involved in a major scandal at school and it’s why he left his job. It’s also probably why he left her, but nobody is willing to give Hazel any details.
Yet Hazel is committed to her students, particularly to a troubled young woman named Febe, who’s recent trauma is even more severe than what Hazel’s been through. While Hazel tries to teach The Great Gatsby to her advanced placement English Lit students, she must push aside school politics and gossip, and carefully pick her battles to protect both Febe and herself. When an action by Febe sends the entire school into a tailspin, Hazel realizes she must find her strength and risk everything to protect Febe, especially since Febe is the only one willing to tell Hazel the truth about Vance. Together, Hazel and Febe confront painful memories and face their futures, even as they put themselves in grave danger.
What about other, notable psychological women’s fiction authors?
I can tell you two of my favorites: Carol Goodman and Lori Rader-Day. Carol Goodman is best known for her novel The Lake of Dead Languages and its sequel, The Drowning Tree, which explore the themes of identity, secrets, and the power of memory. Meanwhile, Lori Rader-Day’s The Day I Died focuses on a female detective who must solve a murder in order to protect her own family. If you’re new to this genre and want to check it out, I suggest starting with them.