Elizabeth Zelvin's Blog – March 2007 Archive (7)

How old is your protagonist?

What got me thinking about this was a great line I heard recently, about Queens being the new Brooklyn. That reminded me of a line that comforted me a lot a couple years back, about 60 being the new 30. And that made me think about how Archie Goodwin in the Nero Wolfe books used to refer to women he considered slightly over the hill as "on the shady side of 30." I suspect I'm not alone in finding the 20s the less interesting side of 30, and hardly anybody thinks 35 or even 40 ushers in middle… Continue

Added by Elizabeth Zelvin on March 29, 2007 at 5:15am — 10 Comments

The real crime scene investigation

Yesterday I had a chance to spend three hours with real crime scene and other law enforcement professionals, along with 75 mostly mystery writers and including some other Crimespacers, in an event sponsored by MWA-New York, at Katherine Gibbs of all places, where they've branched out from training pink collar workers to offering an associates degree in criminal justice. I use an amateur sleuth precisely so I don't need to master the forensic details, but we all need some artistic… Continue

Added by Elizabeth Zelvin on March 26, 2007 at 5:21am — No Comments

Lifelong writers and late bloomers: how old are first-time novelists?

I wanted to be a writer from the age of 7, when I first read L.M. Montgomery's Emily of New Moon. At 11, I learned more about the writer's burning desire to write and the travails of trying to publish from Little Women. While I was in college, historical novelist Cecilia Holland published her first novel at the age of 24 to critical acclaim. She became my role model, not as a writer but as a success. I wanted to be a published novelist at 24. It didn't happen. I did… Continue

Added by Elizabeth Zelvin on March 19, 2007 at 3:49am — 16 Comments

Shades of Moral Ambiguity

Is everybody familiar with the way character is designated along the moral spectrum in the fantasy role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons? The categories are: lawful good (eg Abe Lincoln), chaotic good (eg Robin Hood), lawful neutral, chaotic neutral, lawful evil (eg Hitler), and chaotic evil. It's an interesting perspective to apply to mystery protagonists and their worlds. Police procedurals usually feature lawful good protagonists: cops who play more or less by the rules and… Continue

Added by Elizabeth Zelvin on March 15, 2007 at 4:21am — 4 Comments

Where are the women?

I usually back away from controversy, but I'm shaking my head over the discussion over in the Forum about must-read authors. In 48 posts so far, counting my last one, only Sandra Scoppettone and I have dared to ask "Where are the women?" and "Where are the traditional mysteries?" And so far nobody has so much as commented on the fact that the heirs of Hammett and Chandler hold up only half the sky. I haven't felt so invisible since way back near the beginning of the women's… Continue

Added by Elizabeth Zelvin on March 13, 2007 at 5:28am — 32 Comments

When a traditional mystery isn't cozy

As a reader who loves whodunits, I was rather dismayed when I made contact with other mystery lovers--readers and writers--five years ago, after a period of literary hibernation--to find that while I wasn't looking, they'd acquired a bad name. The bad name was "cozy." It seemed to be widely assumed that if a mystery had an amateur sleuth, it was shallow, poorly written, and infested by talking cats and pots of tea. I had some trouble understanding this. Wasn't Lord Peter Wimsey… Continue

Added by Elizabeth Zelvin on March 11, 2007 at 1:27am — 12 Comments

Hey, can I play too?

Fellow bloggers on Poe's Deadly Daughters, Sandy Parshall and Lonnie Cruse, turned me on to this sandbox for mystery lovers. I hope readers as well as writers will find their way here. I signed my first mystery contract with St. Martin's yesterday for Death Will Get You Sober, and now I have a year to spread the word to people who'll get a kick out of this traditional mystery that's neither cozy nor hard boiled but over easy and kind of crispy around the edges. My protagonist Bruce…


Added by Elizabeth Zelvin on March 9, 2007 at 1:05pm — 4 Comments

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