By Amy Willis
Published: 2:59PM GMT 25 Oct 2009 in The Telegraph UK.

The author claims she is is fed up with increasing levels of "sadistic misogyny" in crime fiction and says authors are simply jumping on the bandwagon to get a bestseller.

"Each psychopath is more sadistic than the last and his victims' sufferings are described in detail that becomes ever more explicit as young women are imprisoned, bound, eaten, starved, suffocated, stabbed, boiled or burned alive," she told the Observer.

Authors must be free to write and publishers to publish. But critics must be free to say when they have had enough. So however many more outpourings of sadistic misogyny are crammed on to the bandwagon, no more will be reviewed by me," she added.

And the most disturbing plots are by female authors, she says.

"The trend cannot be attributed to an anti-feminist backlash because the most inventive fiction of this kind is written by women," she claims.

Natasha Cooper, former chair of the Crime Writer' Association, agrees with Ms Mann. She says women do this so they are taken seriously as authors.

"There is a general feeling that women writers are less important than male writers and what can save and propel them on to the bestseller list is if they produce at least one novel with very graphic violence in it to establish their credibility and prove they are not girly," she said.

The British market for crime fiction is worth more than £116m a year, with almost 21 million books sold.

Women account for more than 60 per cent of the readership with females over 55 the most avid readers.

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Loomis? You're kidding, right?
She must be talking about the Other One. ;P
Right-o; I forgot there were two of me.
oh ha
We as crime fiction writers are free to write about anything we please. If someone wants to write about child rape and animal abuse, he or she is free to do so. Who's going to stop him/her? The government? Some newly-created Writers Gestapo?

The marketplace will see to it that none of that stuff gets out there. Everyone has said how repulsive those topics are, and I agree. I'm pretty certain that most of the reading public agrees with that sentiment, too. If writers of such material try to self-publish, which is their right, then the reading public has the right to spit on it. In fact, I daresay that's already happened, since that kind of trash is, from where I stand, nonexistent in the marketplace.

As someone said in an earlier comment, this is crime fiction, meaning "crime", as in often-unpleasant violations of the law, and "fiction", as in all made-up.

I mentioned this before, and I'll say it here. Quit looking for someone to blame. We live in a free society. This stuff is allowed. If they can shut down child-rape stories (and there are more than a few hints here of "doing something about" serial killer novels), pretty soon, they'll be coming after your PI novels and cozies. And when that happens, they're not going to listen to you as you cry, "Oh, I only meant we should get rid of the bad stuff. Not my stuff!" Your books will go straight into the flames, right along with the rest of it, as they lead you away.
You're right again, Mike. If I can censor you, you can censor me. It's better to not even go there, and allow both of us to write freely. As long as offensive expression is tolerated, no one goes to jail.

All this reminds me of a quote I loosely recall: "It's only repression when someone else does it to me. If I do it, it's out of moral duty."
I'm not looking for someone to blame, and I'm certainly not looking to form some sort of Gestapo. I'm exercising my free right to say that I agree with Jessica Mann's opinion about the crime genre gorging itself on misogyny and violence against women. I say this as an avid reader of the genre. I'm not lobbying Congress to pass any laws.

I agree that nothing should be off-limits to writers. I'm not suggesting we all go out and write Politically Correct books so as not to damage the fragile sensibilities of our readers. What I am suggesting is that Jessica Mann has a right to refuse to help sell work that she finds objectionable, and I applaud her for doing so. This is not 'censorship.' This is freedom of expression.

MK
www.minervakoenig.com
Absolutely, Minerva. That's what I was trying to say. Writers have to be free to write without censorship, and readers have to be free to choose what they will read. In this way, the industry balances itself.

Ben & Jon, all of what you say is true. The moral high-ground can be a dark and dangerous place, and I don't care to travel there.
Oh, God yes--of course she has a right not to review them. In fact she ought to have the right to eviscerate them--but I'm guessing that given the commercial symbiosis between publishers and big-time book reviews, that may be not an option her editor would find acceptable. A book reviewer should always tell the truth, even if the truth is "I advise you not to touch this piece of shit with a ten foot pole."
Okay. Let's get this out of the way: I'm against censorship.

Now let's consider self-censorship. Is it truly necessary to the novel to dwell on extreme violence against men, women, children, cats, and dogs? Must we have have multiple rape-mutilations to make our point? How many live burnings of dogs and cats must be described to deal with a dangerous youth gang? And, finally: Are we choosing the subject and the graphic descriptions purely to ratchett up sales?

How many serial killer books that are bestsellers are actually "good" books and not just "good reads"?

My feeling is that most of those books are just sleaze.
IJ, the answer is yes, it is truly necessary to the novel to dwell on multiple rape-mutilations and all other types of distasteful, ugly actions, if that's what the writer wants. As I said before, the reading public naturally has every right to reject this trash, which they have consistently done since the first time anyone tried to write about it.

And with the serial killer books, who's going to define "good". Answer: the reader, or even more to the point, the potential reader, before he or she buys the book. No one is disagreeing with you that a lot of serial killer stuff is sleaze, and that the really graphic stuff is just plain awful. But if someone wants to write that stuff, there's nothing anyone can do about it.

Of course, if no one wants to read it, there's nothing the writer can do about that, either.
Unfortunately a lot of people want to read it and therefore the writer who writes this stuff finds a publisher who promotes him. It may not be that he wants to write this stuff. It may be that he writes it because it makes money. We have always had such writers. They come and they go. They work for the quick buck.
Of course, he has a right to write what he wants, but we don't need to admire him as a writer because he sells a lot of books.

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