Welcome Wednesday guests for August: Cindy Sample 8/6, Terri Herman-Ponce 8/13, Maggie Toussaint 8/20, Kaye George writing as Janet Cantrell 8/27.

Gloria Alden's latest publication is nonfiction. Boys Will Be Boys: The Joys and Terrors of Raising Boys. Edited by Cher'ley Grogg was recently released and available on Amazon. Gloria wrote three essays and two poems in her chapter included in the book.


Congratulations to four of WWK’s bloggers whose books were released in the last two months. Look for Jim Jackson’s second Seamus McCree novel, Cabin Fever; Linda Rodriguez's new Skeet Bannion mystery, Every Hidden Fear; KM Rockwood's new Jesse Damon novel, Brothers in Crime; and Gloria Alden's third Catherine Jewell Mystery, Ladies of the Garden Club. All of the novels are available at bookstores in print and ebook.

Paula Gail Benson's short story "Confidence in the Family" is featured in the Mystery Times Ten 2013 anthology, which can be bought at Amazon. http://www.amazon.com/Mystery-Times-2013-Linda-Browning/dp/0984203583/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1387240857&sr=8-2

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Thursday, August 19, 2010

Endings Can Be Better than Expected

No torture of children or animals, that is a frequent rule magazine publishers state in their submission guidelines. I don’t want to peer into the minds of child molesters as they commit their crimes. I don’t want to learn a sympathetic understanding of parents who consistently neglect and beat their children, as I’ve seen more than enough of that in my work as an RN.

However, we have an Amber Alert in this country for a reason. I’d thought crimes against children were under-reported. When the clergy sex scandal broke, the number of such crimes was staggering. Runaway teens or even teens who are lost are in serious danger of being forced into prostitution and drug addiction.

Fiction doesn’t seek to educate. Its primary goal is to entertain. How can crimes against children be entertaining?

As well as being entertained, I want to know how characters react in different situations, including distasteful ones. I want to take the same trip authors take as they explore characters who’ve survived stress and shock. I want the characters and situations to tie into the society in which I live. I don’t believe novels that explore the subsequent lives of traumatized children are always cathartic outpourings of survivors of such trauma.

Amy McKinnon’s TETHERED, Dennis Lehane’s MYSTIC RIVER, and Laura Lippman’s WHAT THE DEAD KNOW take the reader into the minds of adults who suffered as children. I can believe traumatized children don’t always repeat the abuse they suffered. Perhaps the suspicion that they might makes them hide their pain and the more fortunate shun them.

I wouldn’t necessarily pick up these books or books with a similar subject matter before my flight in economy class. There’s no shortage of books with lighter subject matter in the airport book store so I’m not forced to deal with difficult social issues.

It’s interesting that children and animals are grouped together. Both lack many legal rights and they don’t vote. Naturally, publishers can make whatever rules they wish about what they are willing to publish and I respect that. Not all readers are looking all the time for a constant diet of characters functioning in bubbles of security who never challenge what we thought we knew about the world and our neighbors.

What do you think about novels that cover difficult subject matter?

5 comments:

Polly said...

I write about tough subject matter, and that's what I choose when I pick up a book to read. I've read two of the three books you mentioned. You're right, though. If that type of book bothers you, there are plenty of others to choose from. Frankly, I don't read cozies. Rarely does the main character's meddling involvement in solving the crime ring true to me. I much prefer a dark police procedural, thriller, or psychological suspense to a contrived amateur sleuth plot.

Ramona said...

Pauline, I think one of the functions of art is to address the painful parts of life. My personal preferences keep me from books (movies, TV) with graphic violence, but tough subject matter is not a deal breaker. I love psychological suspense--what's left to the imagination is often much scarier than what's written or shown.

Good post. Ignoring the bad stuff doesn't make it disappear. It's only natural people want to write about it.

Pauline Alldred said...

I'm going to pick up one of your books, Polly. Readers need a choice. That's the whole point.

Pauline

Pauline Alldred said...

Thanks for the comment, Ramona. I believe all characters deserve a voice even if they haven't led normal happy lives, especially if they haven't lead normal, happy lives. Unfortunately, not even the most prolific writer can cover all of society's characters.

Pauline

Polly said...

I wish you could pick up one of my books, Pauline. Maybe one day some smart publisher will sign me up.

By the way, my real name is Pauline. Not many of us around.