Yesterday, I asked if men do it better.
And I got some interesting responses.
Kate said: "I don't see why female crime writers would feel they had anything to prove... Historically in the UK crime fiction has been dominated by women."
Tania stated: “I probably read slightly more male authors because lately I've been dipping my reading toes into the darker end of the pool, and there are more male authors writing those kinds of books. It has to do with availability rather than any conscious effort to seek out male authors.”
Of course, the one person who stated that they liked male writers better commented via email and I don’t have consent to quote, so you have to take my word for it…
But that isn’t the point today. Besides, those of you who’ve been hanging around for a while were likely thinking (if you didn’t email me to point it out) that my tendency to get on better with guys might have something to do with problems with my mother. But I’m going to save the psychoanalysis for another day.**
I was reading Karin Slaughter’s introduction to her story in Tart Noir. She said, “I’ve always thought of noir as a male-dominated genre, not because women can’t do noir, but because the moral of these stories generally seems to be that men are basically solid, upstanding citizens until they meet the Wrong Woman. It’s a classic retelling of Adam and Eve, only with more liquor and sex… The women of classic noir were defined by the men in their lives: they were dames and broads, singled out as real lookers for their gams that wouldn’t quit. To get away from one man they would latch onto another.”
And the men are all saying bring back classic noir, right?
When I read this comment, I was surprised. I’d never thought of this as the moral of these stories. I'd never thought of noir as being about men and women.
In fact, recently I participated in a discussion about noir. Nobody even went near this idea.
It was the combination of that comment, and the fact that “who writes better crime” will be debated at Harrogate Crime Festival that got me wondering about it all. Until then, I assumed it was just me being an oddity, that for the first long while I had a hard time finding women writers I really connected with.
That’s long past. Laura Lippman is cozying up to my Rankin collection. Cornelia Read is snuggling with Stuart MacBride, and Simon Kernick rubs shoulders with Val McDermid. I just got the latest Natasha Cooper, so Steve Mosby is sandwiched between her and Denise Mina. I really want to reiterate I’m not anti-women! Even my musing about whether or not women felt they had something to prove was not intended to infer that they do have something to prove, but rather that some of them believe they have something to prove. One thing’s for sure – this will be a hell of a start of Friday morning at Harrogate!
I really do believe that noir is about stripping the hope and faith out of a person’s life, until there’s nothing left but darkness. There might even be hope there, but they can’t see it. They can’t find their way to it. They’re lost.
I don’t think it has anything to do with men or women. Cornelia Read’s debut book is being called WASP Noir. And even it isn’t completely bleak.***
Next week, you’ll be able to decide for yourself if I can do noir. One of my short stories will be wondering how the hell it managed to crash the swanky party that features such ladies of taste and talent as Sarah Weinman, Jen Jordan,
Kim Harrington, Aliya Whiteley, Patricia Abbott,
and JT Ellison.
In the mean time, I just love the challenge of fleshing out real characters of all kinds and trying to make the story come alive. Keep hoping to improve, keep setting new goals and working towards them. Sometimes I aim to write first person. Sometimes I try to write tough chick. Sometimes, the goal is to elicit one single emotion. When I write short stories in particular, this is how I do it. I have to think narrow framework, or else they start turning into novellas.
You writers – have you set any goals for yourself lately? Tried to stretch yourself in any way?
Maybe I should make a real leap and try to do romance… Speaking of which, any men that write good romance? Oh, come on, I bet we’re all thinking this is something women definitely do better!
Because I’m obsessing over the genders lately…
You may not know that many non-living things have a gender:.
1) Ziploc Bags- They are Male, because they hold everything in, but you can see right through them.
2) Copiers- They are Female, because once turned off, it takes a while to warm them up again. It's an effective reproductive device if the right buttons are pushed, but can wreak havoc if the wrong buttons are pushed.
3) Tires- Male, because they go bald and are often over-inflated.
4) Hot Air Balloon- Male, because, to get it to go anywhere, you have to light a fire under it, and of course, there's the hot air part.
5) Sponges- Female, because they're soft, squeezable and retain water.
6) Web Page- Female, because it's always getting hit on.
7) Subway- Male, because it uses the same old lines to pick people up.
8) Hourglass- Female, because over time, the weight shifts to the bottom.
9) Hammer- Male, because it hasn't changed much over the last 5,000 years, but it's handy to have around.
10) Remote Control- Female...... Ha! You thought it'd be male. But consider this - it gives a man pleasure, he'd be lost without it, and while he doesn't always know the right buttons to push, he keeps trying.
** I know some of you are wondering and I’ve been mum on the subject since I talked about what happened. I have begun to rebuild a bridge with my mother. It’s pretty surreal after 8 years, but there you have it. I’m fine, things are fine, it’s a fair start.
*** Trying to avoid spoilers of any kind…