If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Check out our February author interviews: 2/7-debut author Keenan Powell (Alaskan lawyer), 2/14-Leslie Wheeler (Rattlesnake Hill), 2/21-bestselling author Krista Davis, who unveils a new series, 2/28-Diane Vallere answers my questions about Pajama Frame. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our February Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 2/3-Saralyn Richard, 2/10-Kathryn Lane. WWK's Margaret H. Hamilton will blog on 2/17, and Kait Carson on 2/24.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Candy and Substance

American readers and movie goers like happy endings. Forget the doom and gloom and don’t belabor reality? I’ve heard that often enough. Is it true? Many years ago, I taught freshman English. Students told me they liked to watch soap operas because the soap situations were so bad that the students felt their lives were tolerable. What about reality shows today? They’re over the top—disastrous life choices, casual adultery, fights, and suicides. Do they make the daily reality of many Americans seem okay?

I like candy—chocolate and fudge are my favorites—but a diet of candy? I don’t think so. I need something to bite and chew and digest. The Swedes produce some of the dreariest stories and most tortured fictional characters on earth. When I watch a Swedish detective drama on public television, even I, whose family has lived in America only fifty years, wonder when the gloom and frustration will stop. Sometimes it doesn’t. Does the character of Lisbeth Salander alone account for the popularity of Stieg Larsson’s trilogy or does the writer’s portrayal of a society with all its warts and characters trapped within the society contribute to the trilogy’s popularity?

Emile Zola, a French author, wrote reality stories that even today, when the circumstances he describes no longer exist, make me want to run out and demonstrate for change. Many of his characters are poor and unable to climb out of that poverty but they are still sympathetic and possess admirable qualities.

In junior high and high school, the strongest bullies can become local royalty. The desire to belong to the in-group can turn the nicest student into a coward, a liar, and a fake. It’s a shock for a young mind to find out popularity and apparent success doesn’t mean meeting an imagesAmerican ideal. Today, there are young people more concerned with having enough to eat rather than reaching their full potential. I know YA writers who struggle with how deeply they can explore in fiction real teen issues and conflicts without being accused of exposing young people to obnoxious material. Teens don’t hesitate to tell us they laugh at adults who believe they can protect teens from what they have already witnessed.

If readers want escape novels with plenty of candy to cushion the fictional characters, readers certainly have the right to make that choice. However, I like to read, at least some of the time, about characters and situations that resemble what I know exists close by.

Do you have dark stories that linger in your memory beyond stories that are so easy to race through?


Warren Bull said...

To name only two unforgettable dark classics: Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" and Henry James' "The Turn of the Screw."

Pauline Alldred said...

Great stories, Warren. I've read them both several times.

P.A.Brown said...

I'd have to say the two modern books that were dark and which I love are L.A. REX by Will Beall and DAEMON by Daniel Suarez.

Beall is a 17 year veteran of the LAPD and his work is dark. No really good cops in it, actually none of the characters have much good in them. But they are fascinating.

DAEMON is a technical thriller beyond any thriller I've ever read. This one grabs you by the throat and drags you down into the belly of the computer geeks world and shows a chilling side to a technology that we are becoming more and more in need of. This isn't a Terminator type book. It's not about AI running amok. It's much more realistic than that, and given everything in the book is either already here, or the stuff is in development.

Pauline Alldred said...

Hi P.A. You've made me want to read both books. I can't see anything wrong with learning a little more truth, even if it's something you didn't want to hear.

Chris Bailey said...

Little Bee by Chris Cleave, featuring a Nigerian refugee in Great Britain, has stuck in my mind as a worth-thinking-about book for about a year now. More often, I read the likes of Robert Crais, Lee Child, Greg Iles. On the lighter side, I love Rhys Bowen and Lisa Lutz. If not all candy, these mystery/suspense/thrillers are desserts. When I think back about some dark "classics" I've read and hated--Tobacco Road, or nearly anything by Flannery O'Connor--I think that the big difference is that when I visit the chewier side of fiction, I prefer a setting/situation that's foreign to me. Those Southern Gothic characters are too close to home.