Archive for April, 2016

Partners in Crime

April 25, 2016

I recently had a brief email discussion with Nicole Larson of the San Diego Chapter of “Partners in Crime,” in preparation for a discussion with her group on May 14. Here are a few of the thoughts that we shared.

Hi Nicole: Your question about a prospective topic is more expansive than you might guess, as is the scope of crime writing. Novels related to crime can be grouped into several categories, among them are: mysteries, suspense, thrillers and procedurals. Just one of those, mysteries for example, can be broken down into several categories including cozies like those of Agatha Christie, Nancy Atherton and Lilian Jackson Braun, and the hard-boiled type in a sub-genre championed by Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett.

To answer the question about a proposed topic directly, I’d say that one might be the importance of authors knowing their genre, and when they begin to write, staying true to that genre even while striving to transcend it by finding ways to bring in a wider audience. In my case, I’ve written two procedurals so far that incorporate Shakespeare for several reasons that might interest your members.

Speaking to your question about whether there are authors who get things right and those who don’t, the answer is an emphatic Yes! On point, I’d mention a blurb on the back of my first novel, “The Sticking Place,” provided by Bonnie Dumanis, district attorney for the County of San Diego. “Mr. Smith does what so many other police writers don’t–he gets the little things right. And best of all, by using Shakespeare, Mr. Smith reminds us that cops are human beings too.”

To be precise, I strive for similitude or, to be correct, as opposed to verisimilitude which is more about seeming to be correct. The difference may seem indistinguishable but the nuance is more like whispering in your ear that I love you than it is like my standing on a busy street corner trying to be heard above the horns and screeches of the traffic.

If the reader is interested in realistic writers who get it right, they should look for the authors who have really done the work on the streets like Wes Albers, Joe Wambaugh or Paul Bishop.