On crime fiction
Two years ago, my friend Michelle Spring tempted me to work with her on a book about the craft of writing. The pairing was unexpectedly effective, since we have such different methods, and with the addition of a number of superb guest essays, has made a book I am tremendously proud of. Take a look at the book, here.
‘Why do you write crime fiction?’
I am often asked this, in interviews or public events, often by those who politely withhold the second half of the sentence: ‘– when you’re good enough to write real books?’ The answer I give depends on my whim, and on who is asking, and why: I started with mysteries because I knew nothing about writing and at least this genre had some rules. Or: I didn’t know I was writing genre fiction, until it was categorised as such. Or: A mystery allows me to explore the Greater Mysteries of life, and death, and other Important Things. Or even: As a young mother, I had a lot of aggres sion to work off…
Even if what I write tends to be more suspense than whodunit, there are requirements I must meet: a crime, a puzzle, a protagonist surrounded by uncertainty and threat, who must solve the crime in order to restore order. There are bones to build before the story can move under its own power, and although I might flesh them out in a hundred different ways, knowing that the bones must be there gives crime writing a structure that main- stream fiction, or genres such as science fiction, lack.