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

Here are the upcoming WWK interviews for the month of July!

July 4th Christopher Huang, A Gentleman's Murder

July 11th V. M. Burns, The Plot Is Murder

July 18th Edith Maxwell (Maddie Day), Death Over Easy

July 25th Shari Randall, Against The Claw

Our July Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 7/7--Mary Feliz, 7/14--Annie Hogsett, 7/21--Margaret S. Hamilton, 7/28--Kait Carson.

Our special bloggers for the fifth Monday and Tuesday of July--Kaye George and Paula Gail Benson.

Please welcome two new members to WWK--Annette Dashofy, who will blog on alternative Sundays with Jim Jackson, and Nancy Eady, who will blog on every fourth Monday. Thanks for blogging with us Annette and Nancy!

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Annette Dashofy's Uneasy Prey was released in March. It is the sixth Zoe Chambers Mystery. The seventh, Cry Wolf, will be released on September 18th. Look for E. B. Davis's interview with Annette on September 19th.

Carla Damron's quirky short story, "Subplot", was published in the Spring edition of The Offbeat Literary Journal. You can find it here: http://offbeat.msu.edu/volume-18-spring-2018/

Tina Whittle's sixth Tai Randolph mystery, Necessary Ends, debuts on April 3, 2018. Look for it here. Tina was nominated for a Derringer Award for her novelette, "Trouble Like A Freight Train Coming." We're all crossing our fingers for her.

James M. Jackson's Empty Promises, the next in the Seamus McCree mystery series (5th), was published on April 3, 2018. Purchase links are here. He's working on Seamus McCree #6 (False Bottom)

Dark Sister, a poetry collection, is Linda Rodriguez's tenth published book. It's available for sale here:

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.

Shari Randall's second Lobster Shack Mystery, Against the Claw, will be available in July 31, 2018.


Monday, June 10, 2013

The Jagger Effect

Rolling Stones frontman, Mick Jagger, is like a member of our extended family—not that he’s aware of that, of course. My husband, who is a couple of decades younger than Mick, looks very much like the rock star—in his younger days before all the drugs and hard, hard living. When we’re playing around in the heart of the family at home, Ben can give a perfect imitation of Mick’s pout, strut, and posturing. I tell him he could have had a great career as a rock star if he weren’t so civilized and nice. The audio tech of the local library where we do a lot of literary programs jokingly refers to Ben as Mr. Jagger, and I’ve been known to tell online friends to find us at conferences by looking for the woman who looks like Wilma Mankiller with the man who looks like Mick Jagger.

When our youngest was a first-grader and Ben had to be gone on business to New York all one summer, youngest and I found a coffee-table book about Jagger’s life with tons of photos of the young Mick, who looked just like our missing husband and father. We just about wore out those pages that summer. They were our substitute for the man we loved and missed so much. So, without his knowledge, Mick has over the years become a sort of distant relative, the kind you might mention now and then but see only on the rarest occasions, a second cousin twice-removed or something like that. We don’t go to concerts or watch music videos or rock programming on TV, so he’s always just been out there, getting older, getting publicity now and then for something or other, good or bad.

Last night, however, a writer friend posted on Facebook a video of Mick and the Rolling Stones on one of their recent tours doing one of their classic numbers. I’d been writing all day and then judging book manuscripts all evening, so I was brain-dead and clicked on the music video, something I seldom do. Ben came in during the video, and we laughed about how Mick still had the strut and moves.

The You Tube channel we’d been shifted to showed Rolling Stones videos from the most recent tour back to the early 1960s. So for fun, we clicked on a video in 1969 of the Stones, remembering what a groundbreakingly wild rebel Mick had been onstage in those days and expecting to see the real primal energy of which the recent performance was just a shadow.

What a surprise! Tame and timid was what we found. We thought it must have been because it was in a TV studio and Mick just didn’t have enough room to really kick it, so we started surfing through the videos. Over and over, the early performances were tepid while they grew more energetic and rowdy the later they had been filmed. We kept marveling at how revolutionary and unthinkably wild the original performances had been deemed by the media and by our younger selves.

Finally, we hit upon the video of the classic “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” with Mick in his androgynous white tutu dress over white tights. I’d attended the concert that had been filmed and remembered it as such a gasp-causing, almost illicitly sexual performance, and Ben had read many articles describing it as the same. It was a real bore.

As we talked about it, we realized that the world in general, and the music and entertainment world in particular, had continued to move into those once-forbidden areas, so now Mick and his band had to exaggerate and parody their older selves in order to stay ahead of the pack. Those early performances were wild and primal—for their time. But today they’d only elicit yawns because the world has moved past all those old boundaries. 

I found myself wondering if the same thing, what I started calling “the Jagger effect,” wasn’t happening in books and movies, as well. I thought of how the thriller field, especially the books dealing with serial killers, tends to become more violent, cruel, and gory all the time—to the point that some people have started to call the worst of it “torture porn.” I thought of the genre of romance, which seems to have moved more heavily in the direction of erotica, a whole new genre that’s cropped up. I wonder if writers, like Mick Jagger, don’t have to keep pushing the limits because the limits are further and further out each day, month, and year. I, especially, wondered at my—and my husband’s—now-tepid reactions to the earlier videos of performances we’d loved and once gasped at in shock. As standards move with time, do we as audiences push our performers and artists to find new limits to break?

I don’t have any answers. I just keep coming up with more questions as I consider this whole situation. What do you think about all this?


James Montgomery Jackson said...

This pushing boundaries is part of what causes nostalgia for the “better times in the past.” I suspect it has ever been thus, but with modern communication the timing "requirements" for new change to differentiate from the old becomes shorter and shorter.

I suspect we have hit or are at least asymptotically approaching the lower limit of time a trend can stay trendy before it becomes old hat.

Andy Warhol said, "In the future everybody will be world famous for fifteen minutes." With twitter we are down to around fifteen seconds -- can't go much lower.

~ Jim

E. B. Davis said...

I think your observations are correct, but, like saying the "f" word, everything becomes a yawn when overdone. It gets absurd. I think that J.A. Konrath keeps pushing the limits of depravity, which is one of the reasons that I stopped reading his work. I don't subscribe to that thinking because I don't read or listen to music to be shocked. Your own ability to cut through to the emotions and gain empathy with readers shows more skill than appealing to cheap thrills written to shock.

I've been a Stone's fan forever. Loved the pictures. At Malice 2012, I passed your husband in the hotel. He looks more like Mick than the posted picture shows!

Linda Rodriguez said...

Jim, I think you're absolutely right. I do find myself wondering where/if the whole process will ever stop. And if not, where will that leave us?

Linda Rodriguez said...

Exactly, EB! I'm an old hippie, so I'm never in favor of repression, but I have problems with some of the most extreme books, which seem to linger long and lasciviously on ever worse depictions of torture of (usually) women. When does we start saying it feeds into rape culture?

And yes, you're right. Ben does look more like Mick than this photo shows. I just don't have many good photos of only him. Lost a bunch with the recent computer crashes I've had. I'll have to set up a photo session!

Linda Rodriguez said...

Correction on last comment--"When do we start saying"

When do I stop being a fumble fingers at the keyboard?

Gloria Alden said...

Loved your pictures, Linda, especially the one of Ben.

Maybe I'm in denial, but I still think a good book can be written without graphic sex and violence. I think more people than not prefer less of it or just the suggestion of it rather than having it written in complete detail. I agree with E.B. about the F bomb, too. As for being timeless, there are writers, who never go out of style, or at least never lose their ability to entertain even if they are no longer among the living.

My sister-in-law this morning told me about the week she spent in a cabin at a resort with her daughters, their husbands and her four grandchildren - 2 teenagers and 2 grade school age kids. The TV was never turned on and the older kids weren't to use their phones, Instead the played games together, and at night the four kids went to bed with their books to read, so there are readers growing up, who do more than twitter and text.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Gloria, that vacation of your sister-in-law's sounds like the vacations of my childhood--and a much better deal than kids get today.

Anonymous said...

Good point . . . and I look for safe zones far away from the boundary-pushing. I had teaching buddies who would warn me, and once even sent a student to pluck a book from my hands after hearing the the evil principal had loaned me her copy. Student's message, "Trust me, Miss Baker says you don't want to read this," so I didn't read it. A recent book club selection creeped me out early on -- I skimmed the ending, and that's all I'll do. One book that I purchased went into the recycling bin because I don't want to be personally responsible for anyone reading it.

Sarah Henning said...

Love the pictures, Linda! I'm going to call Ben "Mr. Jagger" the next time I see him!

And I also agree that it seems the envelope keeps getting pushed. But it's almost recycled in a way, too, so maybe it doesn't end, it just loops? To go with the musical metaphor, it's like how Madonna was edgy and sexy and different and then 30 years later, Lady Gaga was basically the second coming of Madonna ... everyone thought she was so different and original, but she really wasn't doing anything Madonna hadn't already done. Does that make sense?

Linda Rodriguez said...

Mary, I don't mind creepy or even violent books. It's when the violence, almost always against women, crosses over into a sick kind of voyeurism that I have to shake my head.

And I should point out that, though most of the worst of these are written by men, some women writers are taking this excessive torture-rape-mutilation road, as well. And I wonder how much of it is because we as readers (in the aggregate, not us particularly) have become avid for it.

Linda Rodriguez said...

Sarah, yes, Lady GaGa was doing the same kind of thing Madonna did, but if you go back and compare the actual early Madonna videos with the early Lady GaGa videos, I'll bet you would find it instructive also. She was breaking taboos that Madonna had broken in ways Madonna had, but I'll bet--and I'm not a watcher of either, so I could be wrong--that what she actually did at each stage of her career pushed the envelope a little more than Madonna had at that point in her own career. I'm willing to bet that Madonna, like Jagger, has had to up her transgressive total over the years to keep her standing as a cutting-edge, transgressive rock star.

Shari Randall said...

Linda, you have raised enough questions for five blogs. What is the artist's role? Is it necessarily transgressive?
Where on earth did Mick get that white tutu and leggings outfit?
In discussions with other readers, I have heard the term "torture porn" and I do have concerns about the way that envelope gets pushed. I remember how sensational Patricia Cornwell's books were when they were first published, but I did not feel that her graphic descriptions crossed the line. Maybe we all have our own "lines."
Hope to see Wilma and Mick at Malice next year!

Linda Rodriguez said...

Shari, I think you've really found the point of my concerns. What is the role of the artist and must it necessarily be transgressive?

Because if the artist's main duty is to be transgressive, we will end up with films of cannibalism. Wait! They've already done that on Danish TV. (They really have.)

Seriously. I never want to set arbitrary limits on artists, but transgression alone is not artistic. If it is, every serial killer, rapist, murderer, and child molester out there is a true artist--the Emperor Bokassa was an artistic genius--and I refuse to believe that. I feel that, in our desire to set aside limits that inhibited art, we confused transgression and creative originality. And as it becomes harder and harder to get any recognition in any field of artistic endeavor, we opt too often for transgression as a shortcut to true creative originality. In my newspaper days, we called this, "If it bleeds, it leads."

But that's a losing artistic bargain. Witness Mick and the boys. These men are in their 70s, and their musicianship is so much stronger than when they were young and just starting out--Mick's voice and stage presence alone are worlds beyond the 1960s and Keith's guitar work also--but they have to find new ways to posture and strut and appear shocking to stay on top of the heap.

I know I want to keep the freedom to deal with whatever subject in whatever way I feel the work needs, but I want to concentrate my efforts on real creativity and real originality rather than mere sensationalism. I can't choose for anyone else, but that's what I choose for me.

Gayle Reece - "Sally Shield" pen name said...

We are pushing the limits in all aspects of our lives. What happened to dressing for the occasion or venue? Blue jeans are acceptable everywhere. Remember when the majority of children showed respect to parents? Now I hear children talk to their parents in a way that is out of control. Who runs the family now? What can't we do without talking to another these days. I miss the human interactions and fellowship. We have allowed technology to take over our lives. Oh, I long for the good old days when things were slower and more refined.

Linda Rodriguez said...

It's as Jim said, Gayle, "This pushing boundaries is part of what causes nostalgia for the 'better times in the past.'”

We've had a good discussion here about "limits." My first impulse is always to say no limits for art, but of course, then someone will carry it to the extreme, and it becomes not just transgressive but criminal. And I think we might want to remember that some of the best art has been done within extreme limits.

I don't know any solution, except perhaps to decide where the limits are for me as a writer and as a reader. I'll set my own and won't go beyond those. I don't care for overly explicit or kinky sex scenes or scenes of extreme, exploitative violence, so I don't read them and don't write them.