Wednesday, September 21, 2022

May contain crime

Cancel culture: In these polarized times, and in light of recent events, are there any topics or viewpoints which you would not write about or which you think are off limits?

by Dietrich

I find an idea that grabs me and I put pen to paper, and I let that idea grow into a chapter, and on into a first draft. That initial spark needs to be strong enough to carry me through to the end.   

There are topics that I stray away from, and character types that hold no appeal for me. In the year or so that it takes me to put the polish on a novel, I tend to be choosy about the subject matter and the imaginary folk who I spend time with, probably no different than most writers. Personally, I wouldn’t want to share that head space with some deranged serial killer, terrorist, or lunatic loaded up and intent on shooting up a school. In a nutshell, I write the kind of books I would want to read myself.

Being a long-time Stanley Tucci fan, I watched The Lovely Bones a few years back, based on Alice Sebold’s novel of the same name, in which he did an unsettling, yet unforgettable job playing serial killer George Harvey. In spite of an Oscar nod for best actor in a supporting role, Tucci was quoted as saying, “I couldn't wait to leave it behind. A good part is a good part, but a role like this takes its toll on you. You can't wait for the end of the day.”

I’m often drawn to creating underdog and marginal characters for my novels, and I like coming up with stories rich with twists and dark humor. And I like telling my tales from the POV of these characters, both good and bad. Their views don’t often reflect my own, in fact, they rarely do. The aim is to have their actions and dialogue seem genuine, unfiltered, and totally believable to the reader.

“It is about the fear that all creative people must now feel if they are going to write. I believe that writers should not be cowed. We should not be made to do things because we’re so scared of starting a storm on Twitter.”  — Anthony Horowitz   

I’m aware of sensitivities and the boobytraps out there for writers these days. There’s a certain boldness required to write in the first place and put it out there. And I think if I were too cautious when writing a crime novel, then I’d likely end up writing porridge, and I’d be holding a novel in my hands that wouldn’t hold any reader’s interest past the first few pages.


Catriona McPherson said...

That Horowitz quote is quite something. I'd re-frame it slightly as "if you're cowed by the threat of a storm on Twitter . . ."

Dietrich Kalteis said...

You're right, Catriona. Thanks.