Monday, December 8, 2014

A Life of Crime (Fiction)

Why do you write crime instead of another form of fiction, like science fiction, romance or general fiction?

We've all been there. Maybe it's a cocktail party where you're awkwardly trying to balance a beverage and a small plate, and to make small talk without spilling anything. The person asks what you do. You say, "I'm a writer," and hope that they can't see how much you are longing to leave this crowded space and return to the quiet of your computer. "What do you write?" they ask, unless they say that they never have time to read anymore. You tell them and wait. Sometimes they say, "I love mysteries!" and you spend an enjoyable few minutes trading your favorite writer's names. Maybe they even ask for the names of your books so they can read your books. It's all lovely.

But occasionally the person gives you a strange look, or a moue of distaste. "I mostly read non-fiction," they say. Or Pulitzer Prize winning books. Or science fiction. And then you find yourself defending your genre, despite the fact that you very likely read all those other kind of books, too. And like them.

So why do we do it? Why do we write about crime?

It's not an easy question to answer for me. Sure, I have a flippant response or two I can reel off. But the answer is more complicated for me. I always knew I wanted to be a writer. I took a detour into documentary film and feature films. I wrote screenplays. I tried writing other genres (including literary fiction) but never finished the books. But I had always enjoyed reading mysteries. When I went to write my first mystery novel everything seemed to click for me. It felt right. It got published. I did it again. And again. And I continued to read the genre.

So why crime? Well, I decided years ago to write the kind of books I enjoy reading. And I've never regretted it.


Paul D. Marks said...

I think you hit the nail on the head, Meredith. Write what you like reading. Then your heart will really be in it.

Meredith Cole said...

Thanks Paul! Can't wait to read what everyone else has to say this week...

Susan C Shea said...

Yes, it's both that simple and that complicated. Some day I hope you'll do a post about your writing career pre-crime fiction books, Meredith!