Monday, August 18, 2014

We're all in this together

Why do you think the crime writing community is so mutually supportive? Other groups of writers aren't always like this.

by Meredith Cole

After spending 10 years in the competitive world of television and independent film, I was surprised and pleased to discover that the mystery community was so supportive. Everyone (despite their dark and rather violent books) was so nice! Authors I had only just met introduced me around and made sure I felt welcomed at my first Malice and my first Bouchercon. I felt like I had found "my tribe." And I remember one writer telling me, that there were only a few authors who were jerks and everyone knew who they were. But I certainly didn't meet them at my first few cons.

I've heard that the romance community isn't like that, and that the literary community is almost the exact opposite. I'm not exactly sure why, but here are a few theories I've heard:
  1. We kill people on the page and get all our aggression out that way, so we have no need (and no desire) to be mean to the people around us. (Perhaps this works inversely for romance writers...)
  2. Mystery writers are all readers, so we love a great new book (and a great writer) just as much as all the fans. In fact, it's very hard to tell writers and fans apart at some conferences.
  3. We feel marginalized by the intelligentsia (you write... mysteries?!! [gasp]), so we huddle together for support against a common enemy.
  4. With mysteries regularly hitting a healthy number of spots on bestseller lists, there is plenty of largesse to go around--so we are not really in competition with one another.
  5. We have only a limited number of conferences, and so we all seem to run into each other at one of them at some point and meet each other. I think I'm actually the most shocked when I realize that there is a mystery writer that I haven't met yet...
The strength of the mystery community is really most apparent when there is a tragedy. Last week we lost the talented author Jeremiah Healy. All over my Facebook page, authors and fans were mourning the author and the man. Despite his life long struggle with depression, he was an outgoing man who made many friends and helped many authors when they were starting out in this business. He will be missed.

5 comments:

Clare ODonohue said...

It is a wonderfully supportive community! When the words don't come, or the business side of it makes me want to quit, it's the people I know through conventions and MWA/SinC, both writers and readers, that give me the boost to keep at it.

Beth Groundwater said...

Maybe it's also because justice is always served in the endings of our books, so we are more aware about being just and fair with each other. Regardless of why, the community of mystery authors is indeed a very warm and welcoming one.

Catriona McPherson said...

That's a really interesting point, Beth. Meredith, on your third theory: did you hear/see links to the "completely unpretentious literary podcast" sniggering about the enthusiasm of mystery writers? Bloodboil.
http://www.allwrite-already.com/2014/06/12/episode-39-johanna-stein-plus-printers-row-lit-fest/

Meredith Cole said...

It is a wonderful community, Clare! And it definitely makes the challenges worthwhile...

Meredith Cole said...

Great point, Beth! Oh--I missed that podcast, Catriona. Is it a crime to be enthusiastic? Humph, I say.