Monday, June 28, 2021

What Is Controversy?

 Q: Have you written about any controversial issues or created controversial characters in your books? Do you raise issues of conscience or do you steer away from moral questions?  


-from Susan


I write stories about people being killed. How is that not a moral issue? How is the act of trying to bring the killers to justice not on some level an issue of conscience and morality? How is a person who would kill another person in a private act for money, revenge, sadism, or fear not controversial?


More and more, the best crime fiction is telling stories by and about the real lives of people who in the past were relegated (by those writers who didn’t know them) to stereotypes. I am immensely grateful for the inclusion of more voices, who enrich the landscape of fiction and the beauty of human character. Some of their fiction may be deemed controversial because it challenges us to see the world in ways that push us beyond our smaller beliefs. I’m cool with that. 


BLACKTOP WASTELAND by S.A. Cosby insisted that I see the crushing economic trap Beauregard Montage is locked into by society. He’s a Black man who is doing his damndest to live honestly, work honestly, and be a decent husband and father. He’s flawed but Cosby pulls me into his reasoning. 


THESE WOMEN, by Ivy Pochoda, also demands that I see, even for a little while, the world through the eyes of a group of sex workers who try to stand together against people who would shower them with hate and abuse, and objectify them for their own self-righteousness. 


And, of course, the four BLANCHE novels by the late and sorely missed Barbara Neely pulled me into the perspective of a strong, smart, proud Black woman who spent much of her life cleaning up after White people in a lot of ways.


We are opening up the crime fiction community to the best kinds of controversy and the invitation to address – and be addressed – by moral issues and I say, great!

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