16 July 2009 0 Comments

Really, real fiction… and Welsh detectives

The new blog I’ve started with fellow crime writers Christopher G. Moore, Colin Cotterill and Barbara Nadel has a new post from me today. It’s about why I came to write so-called genre fiction. It starts like this:

Writers have it all wrong. They think they need to learn about other writers. I studied English literature at Oxford University and I read all I could find of the sort of literary criticism that makes a novel seem like a piece of East German economic analysis. Three years later, I hadn’t learned a thing — except that it was
fine to have a room you could take a girl to without having to sneak past your mother, Guinness isn’t good for you, and the deputy bank manager at Lloyd’s on Broad Street with the goatee and the bald head didn’t just /look/ like Ming the Merciless.

Then I read Dashiell Hammett. Before he published novels, Hammett was a Pinkerton detective. What he wrote was real. I could smell the places he’d been for the Pinkertons, feel the punches he’d taken, think the way he’d had to think to outwit true criminals. I’d been reading Marxist critical theorists on Daniel Defoe and
French deconstructionists whose scribblings about the “stereographic plurality of significances” were intended to tell me that whatever I thought a book was about was, indeed, what it was about–except that it wasn’t, was it. Or was it?

Read the rest on International Crime Authors Reality Check.

The excellent UK crime fiction blog It’s a Crime features me in a post about the growing number of Welsh crime writers. Tartan crime (Scottish writers like Ian Rankin) has long been big and It’s a Crime notes the recent wave of Irish crime writers–I’m a fan of Gene Kerrigen, Bob Burke, Declan Burke and Stuart Neville. Now she says it’s time for the Welsh, noting some other up-and-comers.

Let’s hear it for the Taffia!

(Perhaps I should explain that to my American readers: the English slang for a Welsh person is “Taff,” because the river through Cardiff the capital is called the Taff and few English ever venture further into Wales than that. Therefore a Welsh mafia would be a Taffia…Amaze your friends with that one.)

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