Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Awe vs envy...a study in green? by Cathy Ace

Reading: Which crime fiction author are you insanely jealous of and why?

This is a tough one for me to answer…maybe it’s because I’m not a jealous person by nature, or maybe because I truly believe one shouldn’t covet one aspect of another person’s life (in this case their creative output) without being prepared to take on all the crap they also have to live with….that being said…

I could just say, “Anyone who sells enough books to make an actual living at it,” but that would suggest there was some point in my life when I thought that might be a possibility…and there wasn’t. 

So the honest answer has to involve authors whose work “I wish I’d written”…with the caveat I don’t really wish I’d written any book that’s already been written by someone else – I only want to write my books, my way...and I'm incredibly grateful that I get to do that!

So, with all that out of the way…and bearing in mind I have no idea what these folks’ lives are/were really like, and I LOVE my life, so I really don’t want to swap life-experience with anyone (oh my, the conditions for this are mounting up!) these are the crime fiction authors I don't envy...but of whom I am in awe:

Agatha Christie: she had the chance to make the rules, then break them…to surprise and delight readers with plot shapes and twists for the first time. She built the foundation upon which so much mystery fiction is built. A LEGEND.

Patricia Highsmith: laid the groundwork for the psychological suspense thriller, creating unforgettable characters and twisted plots that every writer in this genre envies. A WIZARD OF THE WARPED.

Margaret Millar: when it comes to portraying the inner workings of the female mind, Millar has no equal – certainly before, and arguably since. Domestic suspense = Margaret Millar. A MISTRESS OF CHARACTERIZATION.

Martina Cole: broke the mould for female writers by creating hard-hitting, realistically gritty tales of families, relationships and crime that forever changed the way we think and read. A RULE BREAKER.
(I should probably mention that the eponymous pro/antagonist in Martina Cole's first book and I share a birthday...she's exactly ten years older than I was on her side from page one!)

Marcia Muller for Sharon McCone, Sue Grafton for Kinsey Millhone, and Sara Paretsky for VI Warshawski: they showed us that not all private eyes had to be down at heel and possessed of questionable morals...and they could be women! A TRIO OF TERRIFIC TABLE-TURNERS.

Lynda La Plante for Jane Tennison, and Ann Cleeves for Vera Stanhope (with nods to Helen Mirren and Brenda Blethyn for bringing them to life so vibrantly): two strong women created two strong women...and changed the way female police detectives were, and are, portrayed in procedurals. Not side-kicks, not sleuths...real women, doing a damned fine job in a man's world. BRINGERS OF EQUALITY.

Am I jealous of them? Not really. No real green here. Do they inspire awe in me? You bet they do! And they all make me want to write the best books I the same time wondering why I even bother. Aim high, and take your knocks! (And, yes, I have noticed they are all women!)

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Dietrich Kalteis said...

Well said, Cathy. To be inspired is better than to be jealous.

Paul D. Marks said...

There's really no point being jealous. But if they inspire us to do better ourselves that's all we can ask for, besides a good read.

Cathy Ace said...

Dietrich and Paul...yep...I'm with you :-)

Susan C Shea said...

Said the same thing Monday about this jealousy thing and I wish I had added Ann Cleeves to my list of authors I admire. I've never read the novels that birthed Prime Suspect and Helen Mirren's staggeringly good policewoman, but maybe it's time?

Cathy Ace said...

Hi Susan - oh yes, Lynda La Plante's books are wonderful (am just catching up with the YOUNG Tennison books at the moment) and Martina Cole's are also much richer than the TV or movies, as are Ann's. Adapters have to leave so much out of a book to bring it to the screen; I always think there's a texture the author brings to a book that is necessarily absent from any screen version. BOOKS RULE!

Susan C Shea said...

Agree, Cathy. I do love "Vera" and Brenda Blethyn's acting, but Ann's books are richer- as you say, for the practical reasons of creating a screen show - and I would never give them up. I'll search out LaPlante's books as soon as I make a dent in my TBR/TBK (Kindle) stack.

Cathy Ace said...

Ha! Good luck with making a dent!!!! :-)

Susan C Shea said...

P.S. One of your 4-detectives books is in the queue after I read another in which an aristocrat's upcoming marriage is key!

Cathy Ace said...

Thanks for choosing to spend time with the women of the WISE Enquiries Agency, Susan...a wedding is always a fun thing! :-)