Thursday, August 30, 2018

Subtitles

If you weren’t a writer, would you still be in the book business? (bookseller, agent, editor, publisher) or would you do something completely different?

From Jim

If I weren’t a writer, I’d probably be in the subtitling business. It’s what I did for sixteen years before embarking on a full-time career as a mystery writer. Subtitling is one of those invisible professions that few people think about unless they’re directly involved in it. But it’s important work.


At its most elemental, here are the component parts of a subtitle:
1. Text (translation) It has to be right. Not verbatim, but it must convey the correct meaning.
2. Timing (In and Out) ideally, the subtitle should pop up when the dialogue begins and pop off the screen when the speaking ends. Some allowance should be made for readability, of course. That means that if the dialogue is quick, you may need to extend the out time code to allow the viewer time to read.
3. Positioning (where does it sit on the screen?) Normally, subtitles sit in the bottom third of the screen. If there is other text on the screen, such as signs or textual elements in the video, the subtitle should move to avoid covering that text.

Simple, right? Not so fast. Language is so subtle. Translation and accuracy can be incredibly difficult. Then there are technical details such as font, color, antialiasing, and frame rate. And speed. Dialogue just gets faster and faster these days. Watch The Gilmore Girls if you don’t believe me. And then there are shot changes. Traditionally, subtitles weren’t supposed to cross shot changes. Not a problem for Hitchcock’s Rope, perhaps, where the only shot changes come at the end of the reels (up to ten minutes long). But try doing that with today’ lightning-fast cuts, some as short as fractions of a second. Impossible. Something’s got to give.

And that’s the point of subtitles. They’re an imperfect compromise. A movie is about the movie, not the subtitles. Subtitles are an aid to help a foreign audience understand and follow the film. They shouldn’t get in the way.

During my subtitling career. I was fond of saying that the best subtitle was the one no one remembered. Viewers only ever recalled the bad subtitles. The ones that were off. Or funny, unintentionally so. Or worse still, obscene, unintentionally so.

To be sure, there are some creative angles to subtitling, but ultimately subtitles exist as a discipline that depends on another product to exist. They enhance the experience and expand the audience for a film or television show. That’s why I’m glad I am a writer. As rewarding as my career in subtitling was, I prefer to be the creator, not the interpreter.

Fin


Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

If you weren’t a writer, would you still be in the book business? (bookseller, agent, editor, publisher) or would you do something completely different?

by Dietrich Kalteis

What I love about writing is that it’s a solo creative expression. If I wasn’t doing that, I’d likely be looking for something else artistic that I could do on my own. 

I’ve always had a passion for photography, and that could work. I was involved in a lot of photo sessions in my former livelihood, and I have a good understanding of cameras and related gear, both digital and film. And I get jazzed when I study the landscapes of Ansel Adams, the night shots of Brassaï, the surrealism of Man Ray, the photojournalism of Robert Capa, Dorothea Lange and Mary Ellen Mark, or the portraits of Karsh and Philippe Halsman. 

I’d likely shoot street scenes, looking for what’s below the surface, telling a story with images instead of words, and looking for that one in a million capture. I love the street images of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Weegee, Robert Doisneau, Fred Herzog, Vivian Maier, Joel Meyerowitz, and there are so many more.

I’ve been creating art since I was a kid wielding a crayon. I’ve drawn and painted landscapes, stills, figures, and while I’m interested in various styles and techniques, I would lean to a modernist/abstract approach if I lifted a brush today.

After a grade school trip to the McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg, I became inspired by the works of the Group of Seven. I also discovered Der Blaue Reiter (The Blue Rider), an art movement that came about in Munich in the early 1900s. The works of Wassily Kandinsky and Paul Klee are particularly moving. So is the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollack and Franz Kline. And there are the dark-humored illustrations of Ralph Steadman, or those of Bernie Fuchs. The sculptures of Henry Moore, the abstract creations of Jean Arp, the realism of Edward Hopper, the portraits of Modigliani.

Aside from playing with cameras and paints, there’s music. While I appreciate various musical styles and the talents of many performers, it turns out I’m better at the listening than the playing. And I’m okay with that. If you can’t sing, hum, right? And while there’s no illusion of playing like Doc Watson, I do enjoy playing my guitar for my own amusement.

It’s interesting how many artists have found other forms of creative expression. For example, Leonard Nimoy was an accomplished photographer, and so was Dennis Hopper, along with being a painter and sculptor. James Franco isn’t only a talented actor, but an accomplished artist as well.

David Bowie painted for most of his life, and so has Ronnie Wood of the Stones. And Miles Davis wasn’t just the Prince of Darkness, but a hell of a painter. Grace Slick, Ani DiFranco, John Mellencamp, Tony Bennett and Joni Mitchell paint, so does Patti Smith, and she’s a terrific writer too. Jerry Garcia, John Lennon, Freddie Mercury and Frank Sinatra all painted as well. And of course, there are the amazing watercolors of Bob Dylan. 

Musicians and actors seem to like the switch from collaborative projects to working solo. And that can work the other way around too, like when a group of published writers including Stephen King, Scott Turow and Matt Groening formed a rock and roll band (along with a few professional musicians like Al Kooper and Roger McGuinn) and called themselves The Rock Bottom Remainders, playing mostly for fun and raising a couple million dollars for charity.

Another thing I like to do is cook, something I’ve been doing for years. It may seem a little ‘everyday,’ but I can get passionate about it, and to me there’s creativity and self expression in what I dish up. Like most of us, I’m drawn to different expressions and experiences. It’s the very nature of being creative, and whatever I might try, I want to be able to express myself in some way.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

I’m in the writing business

By R.J. Harlick

If you weren’t a writer, would you still be in the book business? (bookseller, agent, editor, publisher) or would you do something completely different?

I’m a writer. It’s that simple. Though I came late in life to fiction writing, most of the jobs I have enjoyed invariably had a writing aspect to it. 

In university, while I hated studying, I loved writing essays.  Give me a topic and no matter how little I knew about the subject, I could make it sound as if I knew everything one needed to know to put forth the argument. Perhaps this was my start in fiction writing.

Which leads me to the other aspect that has always been a part of any job I enjoy, creating something, be it an essay argument, computer code, a system design, systems strategy, even a marketing proposal and, of course, fictitious worlds.

The job I enjoyed the least was working as a library technician right after graduation. My apologies to my librarian followers. Though it naturally involved books, which as an avid reader I love, the job consisted mostly of filing, with harsh words if caught reading a book. There was no writing and certainly nothing creative about it other than the excuses I invented for taking a day off. 

The job I held for most of my working career and thoroughly enjoyed involved computers. You may well ask where the writing and creativity is in that.  Working with computers, at least when I started out, was all about writing, as in writing programs to perform human tasks. The creative part was figuring out how to code the program so it could do the required task. From programming, I graduated to systems analysis and design which involved considerably more writing this time in English, as in the writing of requirements and specifications in language that could be easily understood by the programmers and the users. It also involved lots of creativity in coming up with a design that worked. 

Eventually I moved into systems consulting, i.e. helping clients determine their computer system needs. Lots of report writing here, along with proposal writing to obtain new business.  The creative part was coming up with the right solution to meet the needs of the client.

 A key ingredient of this job was problem solving, from solving a requirement to computerize a simple task to solving complex operational issues with computer solutions. 

I mention problem solving, because it leads right into the kind of fiction I like to write, crime fiction in which solving the puzzle of the crime is a key ingredient.

All this preamble is a long about way of answering this week’s question. Would I still be in the book business if I stopped writing? The short answer is no. I guess in part because even though I write books, I don’t view myself as being in the book business. I am in the writing business. 

While I enjoy editing and selling my own books, I wouldn’t enjoy editing or selling other people’s books. And I couldn’t see myself trying to find a publisher for another writer or getting involved in publishing other writers’ books. 

Nope, I’m a writer and in particular, a writer of crime fiction, because I love playing with language, I love conjuring up imaginary worlds and inventing stories from nothing and I like the fun of solving the puzzle of whodunit and fooling the reader in doing so.

If I were to stop writing crime fiction, it is likely that I would continue to write something, be it blogs, articles for community newspapers, which I have done in the past, maybe even a literary fiction novel. But it is highly unlikely that I would do something else in the book business.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Career U-turn? by Brenda Chapman

This week's question: If you weren’t a writer, would you still be in the book business? (bookseller, agent, editor, publisher) or would you do something completely different?


Intriguing question.

I'm not certain that I'd be in the book business if I wasn't a writer, but I do know that I'd be working in the literacy field in some capacity. My degrees are in English literature and education. The first fifteen or so years of my working life were spent as a special education teacher at a private school started by two psychologists, working with kids as young as six right up to adults who'd never mastered reading. While I taught every subject, my forte was reading. These were rewarding years and ones I wouldn't have missed, yet, as those years went along, part of me regretted not pursuing a career in writing.



After spending several years home with my daughters while tutoring in the late afternoons and evenings, it came time for me to go back to work full-time. It was at this point that I made a conscious decision to get into the writing field. Living in Canada's capital city, I didn't have many choices in publishing but there were opportunities in the federal government. My first six-month position was at the Pest Management Regulatory Agency as a writer/editor answering mail about pesticides and editing scientific documents. Yeah, not my dream subject, but I learned to speak in acronyms and got lots of training on the computer.

I went on to several more jobs in the government over the next couple of decades, mainly at the departments of Health and Justice, and mainly as a communications advisor with stints in speech writing. It was during these years that I began writing for publication, beginning with a series of four young adult mysteries inspired by my daughters and teaching. So all this to say, my entire life has revolved around reading and crafting words into various products.

If, however, I had it to do over again, and the future was wide open, I would change my university education slightly. Instead of an English degree, I'd take the creative writing program, but this again would lead me to a writing career. If this wasn't possible, I'd probably get into the book business as an editor although publicist looks like it might be fun. Working with authors, going to launches, going on book tours ... what's not to like? 

Owning a bookstore is also enticing but knowing what I know now about the difficulty staying solvent with the advent of the big bookstore chains, I'd reluctantly not go this route. The other deterrent would be the need for a business background, something that was never going to happen. Still, the dream of starting a cozy little neighbourhood bookshop à la Meg Ryan in You've Got Mail never really disappears.

Meg acted the role while I lived it above

So, the short answer if I couldn't be an author - I'd be working with books and words in some capacity, whether in the book industry or another field because the written word has been my lifelong passion.

Website: www.brendachapman.ca
Twitter: brendaAchapman
Facebook: BrendaChapmanAuthor


Friday, August 24, 2018

Deeper and Deeper


Paul here:

This week I’m thrilled to have Dennis Palumbo guest blog here. Dennis is a screenwriter (My Favorite Year, Welcome Back Kotter, and more), psychotherapist and the author of the Daniel Rinaldi series. His mystery fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, The Strand and elsewhere, and is collected in From Crime to Crime (Tallfellow Press).

Dr. Daniel Rinaldi is a psychologist and trauma expert, who consults with the Pittsburgh Police Department and specializes in treating the victims of violent crime. And that’s something he knows about personally: Rinaldi’s wife was murdered in a mugging and he was shot. He struggles with survivor’s guilt. Now he’s on a mission to help others deal with their traumas, while at the same time getting involved in cases and helping to solve the crimes.

Head Wounds is the fifth Rinaldi story, preceded by Mirror Image, Fever Dream, Night Terrors, Phantom Limb. For more info, visit www.dennispalumbo.com .



Take it away, Dennis.

***

This week’s question: What difference do you notice between the prose in crime novels that were written twenty years ago and current ones? Do you think the writing has gotten better? Are the subjects different?

by Dennis Palumbo


The question is a tricky one, because no one regards the prose of such authors as Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, Patricia Highsmith, Ruth Rendell or Ross Macdonald more highly than I do. These brilliant stylists could craft starkly beautiful sentences while still retaining both the suspense and the mystery that their novels promise.

That said, there’s little question in my mind that, in general, today’s crime fiction has broadened in its subject matter and deepened in its exploration of those areas. As good as the above-mentioned authors were, both their own prejudices and the social or moral constraints of their respective eras prevented them from addressing (except in the most covert way) issues of sexual orientation, racism and child abuse.

Twenty years ago, most readers expected little more than action, suspense and a cluster of red herrings in their mystery stories. It was also fairly customary to treat characters who strayed outside conventional norms (in terms of gender, race, moral dictates, substance use, etc.) in somewhat stereotypic fashion. They were still presented, even if occasionally with sympathy, as the “other.”

Moreover, the point of most crime fiction of decades past, even at the hands of such famous masters of the form, was to solve the mystery and reveal the killer. The whodunit still reigned supreme.

But times change, and so has crime fiction. From Richard Price to Gillian Flynn to Megan Abbott, the themes---and even the very goals---of these novels have expanded. Today’s crime fiction addresses and explores a much wider and more inclusive variety of characters and situations, from sexual identity to immigration to child abuse. These issues are now frequently tackled head on, and with a more empathetic and knowledgeable approach. Such “outlier” issues---and characters---are no longer the exception to the norm; they are the norm.

As a therapist, I can’t help but think that some of these narrative shifts in tone, theme and characterization are due to a more mature understanding on the readers’ part of the complexity of the human condition. Moreover, as psychological terms and disorders are more commonly (though often erroneously) talked about, readers expect today’s authors to have a more frank, thoughtful view of life today.

(I could make the argument, for example, that Gone Girl is as much a sly, snarky commentary of the state of contemporary marriage as it is a crime novel. It was as if Phillip Roth or John Cheever had turned their talents to psychological suspense.)

In my own novels, featuring psychologist and trauma expert Daniel Rinaldi, the narrative itself is usually informed by the emotional issues (often birthed by the trauma of violence, abuse, etc.) of the characters. As a consultant to the Pittsburgh Police, and in his role treating victims of violent crime, my protagonist’s clinical acumen can help shed some light on what might be going on. (Except those times when he’s wrong.)

The point is, I believe my readers expect that the psychological underpinnings of character, motive and general plot conform to what most of us understand as how real humans behave in the real world. 

Maybe, twenty or thirty years ago, most readers didn’t expect a crime novel to take such a deep dive into character, nor expect the narrative context to reflect so accurately the current state of affairs, either personally or politically. But nowadays, crafting a mystery (even a cozy) without at least a glancing nod at the realities of contemporary life seems antiquated, almost deliberately opaque.

I’m reminded of a comment made about the work of P.G. Wodehouse: as wonderful as he was, he wrote as though neither Freud nor Marx had ever existed.

I think the same sentiment holds true for today’s authors. We live in a rapidly-changing, media-drenched world whose mores and behavioral expectations are in turmoil; a time of global pandemics, terrorism, economic inequality, gender fluidity, sexual predation, and other social and political concerns. For crime fiction to stay relevant, I believe it has to, at least tangentially, acknowledge these issues.

Which, I’m happy to report, it appears to be doing. The best of today’s mystery fiction authors, from Dennis Lehane to Tana French, Scott Turow to Denise Mina, George Pelicanos to Louise Penny, deliver prose that is both beautifully crafted and cannily relevant to the times.

Of course, there will always be readers who enjoy the simple pleasures of earlier mystery fiction, whether the comfortable world of Agatha Christie or that of tough-guy Mickey Spillane.

But, if today’s best-seller lists are anything to go by, crime fiction is continuing to evolve and change, as is the society it inevitably mirrors.

Besides, as the author John Fowles soberly reminds us, “All pasts are like poems; you can derive a thousand things, but you can’t live in them.”

***

Thanks, Dennis. And be sure to check out Dennis’s books and find out more about him, and them, at his website (above).

~.~.~

And now for the usual BSP:

Broken Windows releases on September 10th and is available for pre-order now at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Down & Out Books.


Please join me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/paul.d.marks and check out my website www.PaulDMarks.com

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Two Middle-aged Introverts write a Sex Scene (and ruin my childhood)


Catriona writes: Two swerves today, Mind Readers. One - I am bunking off. Two - honoured guests Jess Lourey and Shannon Baker aren't even answering the question! I can't imagine there will be any complaints because, instead, they are going there. Yep, it's fluttering curtains and tumbling puns as the double-booked tour tackles sex scenes..
And now over to Shannon and Jess.
Thanks to Catriona for inviting me, Shannon Baker, and Jess Lourey back for our Third Annual Lourey-Baker Double-Booked Blog Tour. We love you guys because your couch is the most comfortable and you don’t complain when Jess eats all the cheese. (Jess here: cheese is more addictive than heroin and I’m okay with that.)
Shannon’s newest page-turner in the Kate Fox mysteries, Bitter Rain,  and Mercy’s Chase ), the latest in Jess’ feminist thriller series that Lee Child calls “highly-recommended,” are available for preorder and will be released within days!
Make sure to read to the end for a chance to win a signed copy of both.

Shannon: One of the best things about being in a joint tour, apart from the fact that Jess is so darned fun to hang with, is that we take turns coming up with topics. And since this is our third tour, we’re trying not to revisit issues we’ve already covered. Which brings us to today’s topic, chosen by Jess. I don’t know what prompted her to think of this, but, as it turns out, writing sex scenes is a very real problem I’m struggling with right now. Jess, what is the real reason you came up with this? And did it involve wine?

Jess: I was hoping you wouldn’t ask that, but here’s the truth: I HATE writing sex scenes. I get squirmy and ashamed when I do it (not that it; the writing of it). I know you also struggle with writing them, Shannon, and so I figured we could talk it out and get each other over the hump, pun totally intended.

Shannon: Okay, so Immuna ‘fess up here. Not that it really needs forgiveness or confession. I’ve ventured into the romance genre and I’m not ashamed to say it. I’m of the opinion that writing romance is like having an affair. If you can’t say it out loud, you probably shouldn’t be doing it. Even if I do write under an alias: Shanen Black.

Having said that, I’ll admit that my books make me blush. I don’t have any trouble channeling my inner romantic side, and even writing to market by using the tropes romance readers expect. But I accidently fell into writing steamy romance because a friend encouraged me. Steamy makes me squirm. (Jess here: I have to note that we both used the word “squirm” in talking about writing sex scenes. Any therapists reading this? Please diagnose us below.)

A friend tempted me with writing romance because she’s so successful with it and because I told her I want to learn to write better emotion. She offered to  partner with me, mostly to teach me the ropes about indie pubbing. It’s a good thing she did because, turns out, writing steamy sex scenes is not my strong suit. It’s like in real life for me, I’m much more comfortable closing the door. What about you, Jess? Do you write good sex?

Jess: I recently got the rights back to my Mira James Mysteries, and reading them over, I was delighted to find that while it was incredibly uncomfortable to write the steamy scenes in those books, they’re pretty awesome. I loved rereading them! So yeah, I think I do write good sex. I now need to figure out how to write more of it. Do you have any tips?

Shannon: My writing partner read my first sex scene and told me that until I was comfortable using the words “p*ss*, and *co**,” I’d never make it in the steamy world. She insisted I could not use Mr. Happy and “my secret place,” instead. (True story.) I tried, bless my heart. Finally, with infinite patience (in email, because I don’t know what kind of fits she was throwing in real life) she said just leave the spot blank and she’d write those scenes.
Sometimes, when I can’t bring myself to find different words for “hard” and “wet” (seriously, think about it) I’ll leave the scene blank for her and write “pound, pound, pant, pant,” and move on. She’s pretty good at filling in the blanks.
Because I don’t want to give up, I still try to write most of those scenes, though. She edits them and makes them… more robust.

Illustration contributed by Catriona
Jess: Okay, it’s hard to type while I’m laughing. I think “Mr. Happy Goes Camping in My Secret Place” was a popular children’s book back in the day? To be fair, I’ve never written explicit sex scenes and would have no idea how to do it. I’ll have to read your upcoming release to see how to do it. (Shannon here: not upcoming at all. One released at the end of June, one at the end of July, the next at the end of October, a novella in November, and one planned for January. I’m (ahem) pumping them out.)
And again
Shannon: A writer I know said to me once, “Did you notice how I write my fight scenes? I write them like sex scenes.” I walked away confused by what she meant. But I’m wondering now that since I’ve written lots of fights and action, if I ought to write my sex scenes like fight scenes. Still not sure what that means, but it might take me from the label of steamy romance into BDSM.

Jess: Do you think she meant to write it like a dance, with give and take and tandem movement, rather than to literally throw punches? In any case, I’ve begun outlining April Fools, which is to be the final book in my Mira James Mysteries. I make a promise to myself (and to you, dear reader) that I will put at least three sex scenes in that book. And…drum rollllll…I swear to god I’m going to use “Mr. Happy” and “My Secret Place” because that’s too beautiful to waste.

What about you, dear reader, do you enjoy reading/writing sex scenes and on the scale from closed door to erotica, where do you make your bed?

GIVEAWAY
We are each giving away three signed books on the Lourey/Baker Double-Booked Tour. To enter to win, sign up for our newsletter!
       Jess Lourey newsletter sign-up (when you sign up, you’ll automatically receive a free copy of May Day, the first in Jess’ comic caper mysteries): BookHip.com/KJNSXH
       Shannon Baker newsletter sign-up (when you sign up you’ll receive a free Kate short story): https://mailchi.mp/d5ccfe1840ea/shannonsbooknews
For every comment you make along our tour stop, you’ll get another entry in the contest. Don’t be shy; we love talking to you.


DOUBLE-BOOKED BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

August 23: "Two Middle-aged Introverts Write a Sex Scene" on Criminal Minds
August 26: "Write What You Fear" on Writer Unboxed
August 27: "The Five Stages of Author Grief" on BOLO Books
August 29: "Tools and Tricks that Changed the Game" on Femmes Fatales
August 31: "Write a Great Scene" on Fiction University
September 2: “Author Interview” on Jess Lourey
September 4: "The Unexpected Places Authors Get Their Ideas" on Wicked Cozy Authors
September 8: "A Day in the Life of Our Characters" on Dru’s Book Musings
September 13: "Most Embarrassing Author Moment" on Jungle Red Writers
September 26: "Create an Author Persona" on The Creative Penn
TBA: “More than the Sum of Our Parts” on Career Authors
ABOUT SHANNON AND JESS
Shannon Baker is author of the Kate Fox mystery series set in rural Nebraska cattle country, and the Nora Abbott mystery series, fast-paced mix of Hopi Indian mysticism, environmental issues, and murder. Now a resident of Tucson, Baker spent 20 years in the Nebraska Sandhills, where cattle outnumber people by more than 50:1. She is proud to have been chosen Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers’ 2014 and 2017 Writer of the Year.
 A lover of the outdoors, she can be found backpacking in the Rockies, traipsing to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, skiing mountains and plains, kayaking lakes, hiking, cycling, and scuba diving whenever she gets the chance. Arizona sunsets notwithstanding, Baker is, and always will be, a Nebraska Husker. Go Big Red. Visit Shannon at www.Shannon-Baker.com.  Bitter Rain is an August release.
Jess Lourey (rhymes with “dowry”) is an Anthony, Lefty, and Agatha-nominated author best known for her critically-acclaimed Mira James Mysteries, which have earned multiple starred reviews from Library Journal and Booklist, the latter calling her writing “a splendid mix of humor and suspense.” She is a tenured professor of creative writing and sociology, a recipient of The Loft’s Excellence in Teaching fellowship, a regular Psychology Today blogger, and a sought-after workshop leader and keynote speaker who delivered the 2016 “Rewrite Your Life” TEDx Talk. Mercy’s Chase, the second in the feminist thriller series Lee Child calls “highly recommended,” releases September 8. You can find out more at www.jessicalourey.com.

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Plus ça change...? by Cathy Ace


Reading: What difference do you notice between the prose in crime novels that were written twenty years ago and current ones?  Do you think the writing has gotten better? Are the subjects different?



My first response to this question was to work out what year it was 20 years ago. Apparently it was 1998, but that can’t be right, because 1998 was just yesterday, wasn’t it?




There was all that talk about Y2K being the End of Times, so we’d better all spend the whole of 1999 partying like the artist formerly known as Prince, just in case we went out with a Big Technological Bang at the end of the century. And, while we were at it, we were told to squirrel away cash at home just in case the world didn’t end, but all the ATMs and electronic tills didn’t work any longer. That was just a couple of years ago – right? No? Hmm.



So, to this week’s question. I’m going to give my response a British spin, because I think I’ve got a better basis for comparison that way.



When it comes to the use of language, I don’t think there’s been a huge shift in the prose between the dialogue passages, but there has been a gradual emergence of different voices over the past twenty years, and those voices have been allowed to speak with an authenticity of vocabulary that I believe was – often, though not always – lacking. I don’t mean that just colloquialisms are now more prevalent, but that also what’s being spoken about and the characters doing the speaking have changed. It’s more realistic, more “current”. And that’s a good thing.



Martina Cole speaks for entire swathes of society who would otherwise remain unheard
Crime fiction tackles some truly dreadful topics – and that applies to even the coziest of cozies, as well as the expectedly visceral thrum of a Martina Cole novel. So why not allow “real” voices to speak of such things? Rather than the massaged vocabulary of BBC Radio 4, let’s have the East End of London on the page (the old one, not the recently gentrified and sanitized one). So many British authors have taken this route, and moreso within the past twenty years.



And when it comes to topics…yes, murder is still there, but I enjoy the contemporary twists on motive and method that we see these days, as well as still having a soft spot for “Golden Age” poisonings at dinner parties.



Is it Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose” (roughly translated: The more things change, the more they stay the same)? Maybe. But let’s not forget that Christie used the language of her day, and tackled contemporary topics (eg: Poirot is a refugee from Belgium; much is made in many of her books and stories of the scourge of drug addiction, the class system as she saw it through her lens) with her readers in mind, so maybe change is what’s required to allow authors to achieve that same end – relevance to their readers.

I'd be honoured if you'd consider reading my work - you can find out about it and me here: cathyace.com