Are Female Crime Writers Pushed Aside?

July 11th, 2005 · 2 Comments
by Booksquare

The authors behind The Lipstick Chronicles (Susan McBride, Sarah Strohmeyer, Harley Jane Kozak, Nancy Martin’s) take a look at the idea of a girl ghetto in crime fiction. The discussion features Laura Lippman, David Montgomery, Sarah Weinman, and Harlan Coben, each of whom addresses the idea that women are pushed to the edges of this genre. Their conclusions tend to say no, with qualifiers.

The responses are interesting, but we found that one recurring theme didn’t get explored fully (given the format and the fact that the Lipsticks couldn’t have predicted this, it’s understandable): the idea that people write what they write, and why. To quote Sarah Weinman:

And also by extension, more serious questions have to be asked which is likely more controversial: do the people who gravitate towards cozies or more genre fare possess less talent and potential than those who attempt bigger themes? And why do people choose the paths which lead them to write the books they do?

We would add a layer to her question: do these authors possess a more narrow world-view? Yes, there’s clearly an audience for knitting mysteries, but is this just an extension of a domestic perspective? And there’s nothing wrong with a domestic perspective — what happens in our homes can be very intriguing and filled with conflict. We’ll be curious to see if this question is explored in the Chronicles.

Also, our kudos for asking Harlan Coben about the kids. It’s good to hear a male author talk about balancing home responsibilities with writing. So often, it seems that real life doesn’t exist for some writers, while women have to explain that they work their writing in between soccer practice and piano lessons.

File Under: Books/Mags/Blogs

2 responses so far ↓

  • Sarah // Jul 13, 2005 at 6:37 am

    Yeah, I wish this had been picked up on more, but there was so much being thrown out that I’m not surprised it got buried. That said I was kind of dancing around the issue, because it’s really difficult to start questioning people’s intellect and breadth of knowledge and then apply it to how and what they write.

    Never mind that my grandfather once said that it’s never a good idea to let people know that you’re smarter than they are.

  • Booksquare // Jul 13, 2005 at 7:25 am

    I agree — and it’s not an easy issue to address. I found it interesting that most of the respondents in the series touched on this topic. There is an school of thought that you write what you know, but there’s also the fact that (clearly) a lot of readers enjoy certain types of stories and there are authors who write them very well.

    If I can ever wrap my mind around all the nuances, I’m going to try to tackle the topic. Slowly. Carefully. And probably without a net.