Monday, July 13, 2015


Last summer, I made a huge transition in my career as an author. Since 2011, I’ve been writing novels set in the Deep South, beginning with my first book, Stay Tuned. I went on to publish three additional novels, all in the chick lit genre.

In early 2014, though, I acquired an agent who represents primarily drama and suspense. Fortunately, I’d written two such novels, but had kept them under wraps when my chick lit career started taking off.

After months of shopping around my suspense novel, Center of Gravity, my agent sold the novel to HarperCollins/Thomas Nelson in a two-book deal. Amidst the shock and celebration, I worried quite a bit about losing my readers. After all, chick lit readers are my people. Not only that, many of my author friends write chick lit too—what would they think?

To further confuse the issue, I’d been publishing under the pen name, Lauren Clark, but Thomas Nelson suggested I use my real name, Laura McNeill, to differentiate between the two genres.

In the end, I decided that these are all great problems to have. When I thought about it logically, domestic suspense isn’t all that far of a stretch from chick lit. Before you decide to stop reading, hear me out. 

Melissa Amster, the creator and a writer for Chick Lit Central says, "I define chick lit as modern women's literature featuring a female character ranging in age from 20-40, dealing with issues in the fields of career, romance and family (or even a mix of these items)."*

With this in mind, here are 5 reasons why the chick lit and domestic suspense genres are a bit like kissing cousins:

1. Life Issues - Chick lit plots usually consist of women experiencing usual life issues, such as love, marriage, dating, relationships, friendships, addiction, and much more. Center of Gravity? Gone Girl? Girl on the Train? Check, check, check.

2. Tone - Barbara Vey, in an article for Publisher's Weekly says, "Chick lit is told in a ... confiding, personal tone. It's like having a best friend tell you about her life. Or watching various characters go through things that you have gone through yourself." Ditto for domestic suspense. Center of Gravity is told mainly from three first-person perspectives - Ava Carson, 8-year-old Jack Carson, and attorney Graham Thomas.

3. Humor - Chick lit readers, in general, expect to be entertained with at least a few scenes that make them laugh or smile. Though this is not generally an element in domestic suspense, I did insert a scene to break the tension mid-way through Center of Gravity.

In the scene, attorney Graham Thomas stumbles on a conversation between Mitchell Carson and several school employees. At first, Graham eavesdrops behind a huge saltwater fish tank, but jumps into the fray and confronts Mitchell after hearing him spin outlandish lies about Ava. (It's a great sceneone of my favorites in the book.)

4. Platonic Relationships - In chick lit, the heroine's relationship with her family or friends is often just as important as her romantic relationship. The same goes for many domestic suspense novels. In Center of Gravity, Ava misses her relationships with the teachers she worked with as a school counselor, and the close friendship she enjoyed with coffee shop owner Marley Kennedy.

5. Romance - Though there aren't a lot of swoon-worthy scenes in Center of Gravity, there's a definite attraction between hottie attorney Graham Thomas and heroine Ava Carson. Thomas is a Harley-driving, rugged, and outspoken lawyer who joins Team Ava to fight the injustices she's experiencing.

So, there you have it—five ways chick lit and domestic suspense relate in theme, focus, and voice. I’d love to hear what you think. Do you read only chick lit and rom coms or do you occasionally venture off into other genres?

(Tomorrow, July 14th, marks my release day for Center of Gravity, and I want to thank my friend and fellow author Tracie Banister for hosting me on BBB.)

<Blogger's Note> Always a pleasure to have Laura on Books by Banister. She's one of my fave Chick Lit authors, and I'm sure her writing will translate beautifully to the Suspense genre. Wishing her all the best on her new creative endeavor! 

*PW Article: How do you define Chick Lit?

Book Blurb

The truth could cost her everything. 

Her whole life, Ava Carson has been sure of one thing: she doesn’t measure up to her mother’s expectations. So when Mitchell Carson sweeps into her life with his adorable son, the ready-made family seems like a dream come true. In the blink of an eye, she’s married, has a new baby, and life is wonderful.

Or is it?

When her picture-perfect marriage begins unraveling at the seams, Ava convinces herself she can fix it. It’s temporary. It’s the stress. It’s Mitchell’s tragic history of loss.

If only Ava could believe her own excuses.

Mitchell is no longer the charming, thoughtful man she married. He grows more controlling by the day, revealing a violent jealous streak. His behavior is recklessly erratic, and the unanswered questions about his past now hint at something far more sinister than Ava can stomach. Before she can fit the pieces together, Mitchell files for divorce and demands full custody of their boys.

Fueled by fierce love for her children and aided by Graham Thomas, a new attorney in town, Ava takes matters into her own hands, digging deep into the past. But will finding the truth be enough to beat Mitchell at his own game?

Center of Gravity weaves a chilling tale, revealing the unfailing and dangerous truth that things—and people—are not always what they seem.

Purchase Center of Gravity

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Author Bio  
Laura adores hot coffee, good manners, the color pink, and novels that keep her reading past midnight. She believes in the beauty of words, paying it forward, and that nerds rule the world. Laura is a fan of balmy summer nights, fireflies, and pristine mountain lakes. She lives in Mobile, Alabama with her two sons.
Connect With Laura McNeill



  1. Thank you so much Tracie! I loved putting together the article and doing some research on the two genres!

  2. Good luck, Laura! Can't wait to read Center of Gravity--(and great comparison with Chick Lit!)!

    1. Thank you DeeDee! I am excited about the release and hope that my Chick Lit readers like it as well!!!

      xx, Laura

  3. Love the comparisons! Great post. Best of luck with your launch date tomorrow! Super exciting times! I'm seeing your book everywhere so I'm sure you'll have a great launch! :)

    1. Thank you Jackie! I'm as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs!!!!! :D xoxo