Monday, March 28, 2016

Keep Smiling and Sheath Your Knife

"Is there a message in your book that you want readers to grasp?"

- from Susan

Yes: Don’t kill people. It’s not worth the hassle.

Sorry, I’m late posting. I’m on the board of the northern California Sisters in Crime chapter and sent a request for information to all 110 members Sunday. My inbox is flooded and it feels a little like the episode of “I Love Lucy” where Lucy is stuck at the end of the conveyer belt that’s delivering (what was it – candy?) faster than she can deal with it.

Anyway, I can’t say I consciously begin a book with the idea of a social, ethical, or moral theme other than the above. But I do try to reflect the world – my world – in the characters. So, in the Dani O’Rourke series set in San Francisco and an art museum, even though I don’t make an issue of it – in fact, I might challenge readers to know who I mean – there are gay men who are simply part of the community, there’s a black woman who is Dani’s esteemed colleague but who has an interesting life outside of Dani’s circle, and there are older people who aren’t senile and who don’t fit any stereotype.

I guess I do look hard and without favor on the wealthiest among us who have chosen to separate themselves from the community, who choose not to do good with their money, and who really, truly, believe they are above the law. But I try to balance that will uber wealthy people who are generous, community-minded, and choose to live connected lives. This is an issue that has become major in this election cycle but I started writing about the most self-centered ultra rich long before it became a spotlighted issue, perhaps because I’ve had professional dealings with a few in the past.

I recently completed the first book in a new series that’s set in rural contemporary France. The only theme there for me is pretty much the same as Jane Austen’s: When you upset the status quo and the social order an insular community, it involves everyone. And until there is a resolution, everyone will be jarred from the nicely working machinery of social order.

Lest this sound like I’m an avenging angel, I’m not. I look on all of this with the same jaded, slightly cynical sense of humor that dear Jane and many others since have brought to the subject of the perennial dances within societies. Sometimes I have to work hard to bring that same humor to my perspective on real life social issues, but in fiction, I can still smile!


Anonymous said...

I'm not read anything you've written but you got me with San Francisco and France.Off I go to look up you books. Loved your blog.
Ruth Nixon

Susan C Shea said...

Thanks, Ruth.

The SF-based books are out - your library might have them or be able to order them by the way. The first French books, Love & Murder in Burgundy, comes out next spring from St. Martins Minotaur.